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Full text of "Ancient Classic Texts before 400 B.C."

350 BC 

NICOMACHEAN ETHICS 

by Aristotle 

translated by W. D. Ross 

BOOK I 

1 

EVERY art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, 
is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has 
rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. But a 
certain difference is found among ends; some are activities, others 
are products apart from the activities that produce them. Where 
there are ends apart from the actions, it is the nature of the 
products to be better than the activities . Now, as there are many 
actions, arts, and sciences, their ends also are many; the end of 
the medical art is health, that of shipbuilding a vessel, that of 
strategy victory, that of economics wealth. But where such arts fall 
under a single capacity- as bridle-making and the other arts concerned 
with the equipment of horses fall under the art of riding, and this 
and every military action under strategy, in the same way other arts 
fall under yet others- in all of these the ends of the master arts 
are to be preferred to all the subordinate ends; for it is for the 
sake of the former that the latter are pursued. It makes no difference 
whether the activities themselves are the ends of the actions, or 
something else apart from the activities, as in the case of the 
sciences just mentioned. 

2 

If, then, there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for 
its own sake (everything else being desired for the sake of this), and 
if we do not choose everything for the sake of something else (for 
at that rate the process would go on to infinity, so that our desire 
would be empty and vain) , clearly this must be the good and the 
chief good. Will not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence 
on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more 
likely to hit upon what is right? If so, we must try, in outline at 
least, to determine what it is, and of which of the sciences or 
capacities it is the object. It would seem to belong to the most 
authoritative art and that which is most truly the master art. And 
politics appears to be of this nature; for it is this that ordains 
which of the sciences should be studied in a state, and which each 
class of citizens should learn and up to what point they should 
learn them; and we see even the most highly esteemed of capacities 
to fall under this, e.g. strategy, economics, rhetoric; now, since 
politics uses the rest of the sciences, and since, again, it 
legislates as to what we are to do and what we are to abstain from, 
the end of this science must include those of the others, so that this 
end must be the good for man. For even if the end is the same for a 
single man and for a state, that of the state seems at all events 
something greater and more complete whether to attain or to 
preserve; though it is worth while to attain the end merely for one 
man, it is finer and more godlike to attain it for a nation or for 
city-states. These, then, are the ends at which our inquiry aims, 
since it is political science, in one sense of that term. 

3 

Our discussion will be adequate if it has as much clearness as the 
subject-matter admits of, for precision is not to be sought for 
alike in all discussions, any more than in all the products of the 
crafts. Now fine and just actions, which political science 
investigates, admit of much variety and fluctuation of opinion, so 



that they may be thought to exist only by convention, and not by 
nature. And goods also give rise to a similar fluctuation because they 
bring harm to many people; for before now men have been undone by 
reason of their wealth, and others by reason of their courage. We must 
be content, then, in speaking of such subjects and with such premisses 
to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and in speaking about 
things which are only for the most part true and with premisses of the 
same kind to reach conclusions that are no better. In the same spirit, 
therefore, should each type of statement be received; for it is the 
mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of 
things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is 
evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a 
mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs. 

Now each man judges well the things he knows, and of these he is a 
good judge. And so the man who has been educated in a subject is a 
good judge of that subject, and the man who has received an 
all-round education is a good judge in general. Hence a young man is 
not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is 
inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions 
start from these and are about these; and, further, since he tends 
to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, 
because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action. And it makes 
no difference whether he is young in years or youthful in character; 
the defect does not depend on time, but on his living, and pursuing 
each successive object, as passion directs. For to such persons, as to 
the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit; but to those who desire 
and act in accordance with a rational principle knowledge about such 
matters will be of great benefit. 

These remarks about the student, the sort of treatment to be 
expected, and the purpose of the inquiry, may be taken as our preface. 

4 

Let us resume our inquiry and state, in view of the fact that all 
knowledge and every pursuit aims at some good, what it is that we 
say political science aims at and what is the highest of all goods 
achievable by action. Verbally there is very general agreement; for 
both the general run of men and people of superior refinement say that 
it is happiness, and identify living well and doing well with being 
happy; but with regard to what happiness is they differ, and the 
many do not give the same account as the wise. For the former think it 
is some plain and obvious thing, like pleasure, wealth, or honour; 
they differ, however, from one another- and often even the same man 
identifies it with different things, with health when he is ill, 
with wealth when he is poor; but, conscious of their ignorance, they 
admire those who proclaim some great ideal that is above their 
comprehension. Now some thought that apart from these many goods there 
is another which is self-subsistent and causes the goodness of all 
these as well. To examine all the opinions that have been held were 
perhaps somewhat fruitless; enough to examine those that are most 
prevalent or that seem to be arguable. 

Let us not fail to notice, however, that there is a difference 
between arguments from and those to the first principles. For Plato, 
too, was right in raising this question and asking, as he used to 
do, 'are we on the way from or to the first principles?' There is a 
difference, as there is in a race-course between the course from the 
judges to the turning-point and the way back. For, while we must begin 
with what is known, things are objects of knowledge in two senses- 
some to us, some without qualification. Presumably, then, we must 
begin with things known to us. Hence any one who is to listen 
intelligently to lectures about what is noble and just, and generally, 
about the subjects of political science must have been brought up in 
good habits. For the fact is the starting-point, and if this is 
sufficiently plain to him, he will not at the start need the reason as 
well; and the man who has been well brought up has or can easily get 



startingpoints . And as for him who neither has nor can get them, let 
him hear the words of Hesiod: 

Far best is he who knows all things himself; 
Good, he that hearkens when men counsel right; 
But he who neither knows, nor lays to heart 
Another's wisdom, is a useless wight. 

5 

Let us, however, resume our discussion from the point at which we 
digressed. To judge from the lives that men lead, most men, and men of 
the most vulgar type, seem (not without some ground) to identify the 
good, or happiness, with pleasure; which is the reason why they love 
the life of enjoyment. For there are, we may say, three prominent 
types of life- that just mentioned, the political, and thirdly the 
contemplative life. Now the mass of mankind are evidently quite 
slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts, but 
they get some ground for their view from the fact that many of those 
in high places share the tastes of Sardanapallus . A consideration of 
the prominent types of life shows that people of superior refinement 
and of active disposition identify happiness with honour; for this is, 
roughly speaking, the end of the political life. But it seems too 
superficial to be what we are looking for, since it is thought to 
depend on those who bestow honour rather than on him who receives 
it, but the good we divine to be something proper to a man and not 
easily taken from him. Further, men seem to pursue honour in order 
that they may be assured of their goodness; at least it is by men of 
practical wisdom that they seek to be honoured, and among those who 
know them, and on the ground of their virtue; clearly, then, according 
to them, at any rate, virtue is better. And perhaps one might even 
suppose this to be, rather than honour, the end of the political life. 
But even this appears somewhat incomplete; for possession of virtue 
seems actually compatible with being asleep, or with lifelong 
inactivity, and, further, with the greatest sufferings and 
misfortunes; but a man who was living so no one would call happy, 
unless he were maintaining a thesis at all costs. But enough of 
this; for the subject has been sufficiently treated even in the 
current discussions. Third comes the contemplative life, which we 
shall consider later. 

The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and 
wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely 
useful and for the sake of something else. And so one might rather 
take the aforenamed objects to be ends; for they are loved for 
themselves. But it is evident that not even these are ends; yet many 
arguments have been thrown away in support of them. Let us leave 
this subject, then. 



We had perhaps better consider the universal good and discuss 
thoroughly what is meant by it, although such an inquiry is made an 
uphill one by the fact that the Forms have been introduced by 
friends of our own. Yet it would perhaps be thought to be better, 
indeed to be our duty, for the sake of maintaining the truth even to 
destroy what touches us closely, especially as we are philosophers 
or lovers of wisdom; for, while both are dear, piety requires us to 
honour truth above our friends. 

The men who introduced this doctrine did not posit Ideas of 
classes within which they recognized priority and posteriority 
(which is the reason why they did not maintain the existence of an 
Idea embracing all numbers); but the term 'good' is used both in the 
category of substance and in that of quality and in that of 
relation, and that which is per se, i.e. substance, is prior in nature 
to the relative (for the latter is like an off shoot and accident of 



being) ; so that there could not be a common Idea set over all these 
goods. Further, since 'good' has as many senses as 'being' (for it 
is predicated both in the category of substance, as of God and of 
reason, and in quality, i.e. of the virtues, and in quantity, i.e. 
of that which is moderate, and in relation, i.e. of the useful, and in 
time, i.e. of the right opportunity, and in place, i.e. of the right 
locality and the like) , clearly it cannot be something universally 
present in all cases and single; for then it could not have been 
predicated in all the categories but in one only. Further, since of 
the things answering to one Idea there is one science, there would 
have been one science of all the goods; but as it is there are many 
sciences even of the things that fall under one category, e.g. of 
opportunity, for opportunity in war is studied by strategics and in 
disease by medicine, and the moderate in food is studied by medicine 
and in exercise by the science of gymnastics. And one might ask the 
question, what in the world they mean by 'a thing itself', is (as is 
the case) in 'man himself' and in a particular man the account of 
man is one and the same. For in so far as they are man, they will in 
no respect differ; and if this is so, neither will 'good itself' and 
particular goods, in so far as they are good. But again it will not be 
good any the more for being eternal, since that which lasts long is no 
whiter than that which perishes in a day. The Pythagoreans seem to 
give a more plausible account of the good, when they place the one 
in the column of goods; and it is they that Speusippus seems to have 
followed . 

But let us discuss these matters elsewhere; an objection to what 
we have said, however, may be discerned in the fact that the 
Platonists have not been speaking about all goods, and that the 
goods that are pursued and loved for themselves are called good by 
reference to a single Form, while those which tend to produce or to 
preserve these somehow or to prevent their contraries are called so by 
reference to these, and in a secondary sense. Clearly, then, goods 
must be spoken of in two ways, and some must be good in themselves, 
the others by reason of these. Let us separate, then, things good in 
themselves from things useful, and consider whether the former are 
called good by reference to a single Idea. What sort of goods would 
one call good in themselves? Is it those that are pursued even when 
isolated from others, such as intelligence, sight, and certain 
pleasures and honours? Certainly, if we pursue these also for the sake 
of something else, yet one would place them among things good in 
themselves. Or is nothing other than the Idea of good good in 
itself? In that case the Form will be empty. But if the things we have 
named are also things good in themselves, the account of the good will 
have to appear as something identical in them all, as that of 
whiteness is identical in snow and in white lead. But of honour, 
wisdom, and pleasure, just in respect of their goodness, the 
accounts are distinct and diverse. The good, therefore, is not some 
common element answering to one Idea. 

But what then do we mean by the good? It is surely not like the 
things that only chance to have the same name. Are goods one, then, by 
being derived from one good or by all contributing to one good, or are 
they rather one by analogy? Certainly as sight is in the body, so is 
reason in the soul, and so on in other cases. But perhaps these 
subjects had better be dismissed for the present; for perfect 
precision about them would be more appropriate to another branch of 
philosophy. And similarly with regard to the Idea; even if there is 
some one good which is universally predicable of goods or is capable 
of separate and independent existence, clearly it could not be 
achieved or attained by man; but we are now seeking something 
attainable. Perhaps, however, some one might think it worth while to 
recognize this with a view to the goods that are attainable and 
achievable; for having this as a sort of pattern we shall know 
better the goods that are good for us, and if we know them shall 
attain them. This argument has some plausibility, but seems to clash 



with the procedure of the sciences; for all of these, though they 
aim at some good and seek to supply the deficiency of it, leave on one 
side the knowledge of the good. Yet that all the exponents of the arts 
should be ignorant of, and should not even seek, so great an aid is 
not probable. It is hard, too, to see how a weaver or a carpenter will 
be benefited in regard to his own craft by knowing this 'good itself', 
or how the man who has viewed the Idea itself will be a better 
doctor or general thereby. For a doctor seems not even to study health 
in this way, but the health of man, or perhaps rather the health of 
a particular man; it is individuals that he is healing. But enough 
of these topics. 

7 

Let us again return to the good we are seeking, and ask what it 
can be. It seems different in different actions and arts; it is 
different in medicine, in strategy, and in the other arts likewise. 
What then is the good of each? Surely that for whose sake everything 
else is done. In medicine this is health, in strategy victory, in 
architecture a house, in any other sphere something else, and in every 
action and pursuit the end; for it is for the sake of this that all 
men do whatever else they do. Therefore, if there is an end for all 
that we do, this will be the good achievable by action, and if there 
are more than one, these will be the goods achievable by action. 

So the argument has by a different course reached the same point; 
but we must try to state this even more clearly. Since there are 
evidently more than one end, and we choose some of these (e.g. wealth, 
flutes, and in general instruments) for the sake of something else, 
clearly not all ends are final ends; but the chief good is evidently 
something final. Therefore, if there is only one final end, this 
will be what we are seeking, and if there are more than one, the 
most final of these will be what we are seeking. Now we call that 
which is in itself worthy of pursuit more final than that which is 
worthy of pursuit for the sake of something else, and that which is 
never desirable for the sake of something else more final than the 
things that are desirable both in themselves and for the sake of 
that other thing, and therefore we call final without qualification 
that which is always desirable in itself and never for the sake of 
something else. 

Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for 
this we choose always for self and never for the sake of something 
else, but honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose 
indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should 
still choose each of them) , but we choose them also for the sake of 
happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness, 
on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in 
general, for anything other than itself. 

From the point of view of self-sufficiency the same result seems 
to follow; for the final good is thought to be self-sufficient. Now by 
self-sufficient we do not mean that which is sufficient for a man by 
himself, for one who lives a solitary life, but also for parents, 
children, wife, and in general for his friends and fellow citizens, 
since man is born for citizenship. But some limit must be set to this; 
for if we extend our requirement to ancestors and descendants and 
friends' friends we are in for an infinite series. Let us examine this 
question, however, on another occasion; the self-sufficient we now 
define as that which when isolated makes life desirable and lacking in 
nothing; and such we think happiness to be; and further we think it 
most desirable of all things, without being counted as one good 
thing among others- if it were so counted it would clearly be made 
more desirable by the addition of even the least of goods; for that 
which is added becomes an excess of goods, and of goods the greater 
is always more desirable. Happiness, then, is something final and 
self-sufficient, and is the end of action. 

Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a 



platitude, and a clearer account of what it is still desired. This 
might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of 
man. For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and, in 
general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and 
the 'well' is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to 
be for man, if he has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and the 
tanner certain functions or activities, and has man none? Is he born 
without a function? Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general each of 
the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man 
similarly has a function apart from all these? What then can this 
be? Life seems to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what is 
peculiar to man. Let us exclude, therefore, the life of nutrition 
and growth. Next there would be a life of perception, but it also 
seems to be common even to the horse, the ox, and every animal. 
There remains, then, an active life of the element that has a rational 
principle; of this, one part has such a principle in the sense of 
being obedient to one, the other in the sense of possessing one and 
exercising thought. And, as 'life of the rational element' also has 
two meanings, we must state that life in the sense of activity is what 
we mean; for this seems to be the more proper sense of the term. Now 
if the function of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies 
a rational principle, and if we say ' so-and-so-and 'a good 
so-and-so' have a function which is the same in kind, e.g. a lyre, and 
a good lyre-player, and so without qualification in all cases, 
eminence in respect of goodness being idded to the name of the 
function (for the function of a lyre-player is to play the lyre, and 
that of a good lyre-player is to do so well) : if this is the case, 
and we state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and 
this to be an activity or actions of the soul implying a rational 
principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble 
performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is 
performed in accordance with the appropriate excellence: if this is 
the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance 
with virtue, and if there are more than one virtue, in accordance with 
the best and most complete. 

But we must add 'in a complete life. ' For one swallow does not 
make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short 
time, does not make a man blessed and happy. 

Let this serve as an outline of the good; for we must presumably 
first sketch it roughly, and then later fill in the details. But it 
would seem that any one is capable of carrying on and articulating 
what has once been well outlined, and that time is a good discoverer 
or partner in such a work; to which facts the advances of the arts are 
due; for any one can add what is lacking. And we must also remember 
what has been said before, and not look for precision in all things 
alike, but in each class of things such precision as accords with 
the subject-matter, and so much as is appropriate to the inquiry. 
For a carpenter and a geometer investigate the right angle in 
different ways; the former does so in so far as the right angle is 
useful for his work, while the latter inquires what it is or what sort 
of thing it is; for he is a spectator of the truth. We must act in the 
same way, then, in all other matters as well, that our main task may 
not be subordinated to minor questions . Nor must we demand the cause 
in all matters alike; it is enough in some cases that the fact be well 
established, as in the case of the first principles; the fact is the 
primary thing or first principle. Now of first principles we see 
some by induction, some by perception, some by a certain 
habituation, and others too in other ways. But each set of 
principles we must try to investigate in the natural way, and we 
must take pains to state them definitely, since they have a great 
influence on what follows. For the beginning is thought to be more 
than half of the whole, and many of the questions we ask are cleared 
up by it. 



We must consider it, however, in the light not only of our 
conclusion and our premisses, but also of what is commonly said 
about it; for with a true view all the data harmonize, but with a 
false one the facts soon clash. Now goods have been divided into three 
classes, and some are described as external, others as relating to 
soul or to body; we call those that relate to soul most properly and 
truly goods, and psychical actions and activities we class as relating 
to soul. Therefore our account must be sound, at least according to 
this view, which is an old one and agreed on by philosophers. It is 
correct also in that we identify the end with certain actions and 
activities; for thus it falls among goods of the soul and not among 
external goods. Another belief which harmonizes with our account is 
that the happy man lives well and does well; for we have practically 
defined happiness as a sort of good life and good action. The 
characteristics that are looked for in happiness seem also, all of 
them, to belong to what we have defined happiness as being. For some 
identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others 
with a kind of philosophic wisdom, others with these, or one of these, 
accompanied by pleasure or not without pleasure; while others 
include also external prosperity. Now some of these views have been 
held by many men and men of old, others by a few eminent persons; 
and it is not probable that either of these should be entirely 
mistaken, but rather that they should be right in at least some one 
respect or even in most respects . 

With those who identify happiness with virtue or some one virtue our 
account is in harmony; for to virtue belongs virtuous activity. But it 
makes, perhaps, no small difference whether we place the chief good in 
possession or in use, in state of mind or in activity. For the state 
of mind may exist without producing any good result, as in a man who 
is asleep or in some other way quite inactive, but the activity 
cannot; for one who has the activity will of necessity be acting, 
and acting well. And as in the Olympic Games it is not the most 
beautiful and the strongest that are crowned but those who compete 
(for it is some of these that are victorious), so those who act win, 
and rightly win, the noble and good things in life. 

Their life is also in itself pleasant. For pleasure is a state of 
soul, and to each man that which he is said to be a lover of is 
pleasant; e.g. not only is a horse pleasant to the lover of horses, 
and a spectacle to the lover of sights, but also in the same way 
just acts are pleasant to the lover of justice and in general virtuous 
acts to the lover of virtue. Now for most men their pleasures are in 
conflict with one another because these are not by nature pleasant, 
but the lovers of what is noble find pleasant the things that are by 
nature pleasant; and virtuous actions are such, so that these are 
pleasant for such men as well as in their own nature. Their life, 
therefore, has no further need of pleasure as a sort of adventitious 
charm, but has its pleasure in itself. For, besides what we have said, 
the man who does not rejoice in noble actions is not even good; 
since no one would call a man just who did not enjoy acting justly, 
nor any man liberal who did not enjoy liberal actions; and similarly 
in all other cases. If this is so, virtuous actions must be in 
themselves pleasant. But they are also good and noble, and have each 
of these attributes in the highest degree, since the good man judges 
well about these attributes; his judgement is such as we have 
described. Happiness then is the best, noblest, and most pleasant 
thing in the world, and these attributes are not severed as in the 
inscription at Delos- 

Most noble is that which is justest, and best is health; 
But pleasantest is it to win what we love. 

For all these properties belong to the best activities; and these, 
or one- the best- of these, we identify with happiness. 



Yet evidently, as we said, it needs the external goods as well; 
for it is impossible, or not easy, to do noble acts without the proper 
equipment. In many actions we use friends and riches and political 
power as instruments; and there are some things the lack of which 
takes the lustre from happiness, as good birth, goodly children, 
beauty; for the man who is very ugly in appearance or ill-born or 
solitary and childless is not very likely to be happy, and perhaps a 
man would be still less likely if he had thoroughly bad children or 
friends or had lost good children or friends by death. As we said, 
then, happiness seems to need this sort of prosperity in addition; for 
which reason some identify happiness with good fortune, though 
others identify it with virtue. 

9 

For this reason also the question is asked, whether happiness is 
to be acquired by learning or by habituation or some other sort of 
training, or comes in virtue of some divine providence or again by 
chance. Now if there is any gift of the gods to men, it is 
reasonable that happiness should be god-given, and most surely 
god-given of all human things inasmuch as it is the best. But this 
question would perhaps be more appropriate to another inquiry; 
happiness seems, however, even if it is not god-sent but comes as a 
result of virtue and some process of learning or training, to be among 
the most godlike things; for that which is the prize and end of virtue 
seems to be the best thing in the world, and something godlike and 
blessed. 

It will also on this view be very generally shared; for all who 
are not maimed as regards their potentiality for virtue may win it 
by a certain kind of study and care. But if it is better to be happy 
thus than by chance, it is reasonable that the facts should be so, 
since everything that depends on the action of nature is by nature 
as good as it can be, and similarly everything that depends on art 
or any rational cause, and especially if it depends on the best of all 
causes. To entrust to chance what is greatest and most noble would 
be a very defective arrangement. 

The answer to the question we are asking is plain also from the 
definition of happiness; for it has been said to be a virtuous 
activity of soul, of a certain kind. Of the remaining goods, some must 
necessarily pre-exist as conditions of happiness, and others are 
naturally co-operative and useful as instruments. And this will be 
found to agree with what we said at the outset; for we stated the 
end of political science to be the best end, and political science 
spends most of its pains on making the citizens to be of a certain 
character, viz. good and capable of noble acts. 

It is natural, then, that we call neither ox nor horse nor any other 
of the animals happy; for none of them is capable of sharing in such 
activity. For this reason also a boy is not happy; for he is not yet 
capable of such acts, owing to his age; and boys who are called 
happy are being congratulated by reason of the hopes we have for them. 
For there is required, as we said, not only complete virtue but also a 
complete life, since many changes occur in life, and all manner of 
chances, and the most prosperous may fall into great misfortunes in 
old age, as is told of Priam in the Trojan Cycle; and one who has 
experienced such chances and has ended wretchedly no one calls happy. 

10 

Must no one at all, then, be called happy while he lives; must we, 
as Solon says, see the end? Even if we are to lay down this 
doctrine, is it also the case that a man is happy when he is dead? 
Or is not this quite absurd, especially for us who say that 
happiness is an activity? But if we do not call the dead man happy, 
and if Solon does not mean this, but that one can then safely call a 
man blessed as being at last beyond evils and misfortunes, this also 
affords matter for discussion; for both evil and good are thought to 



exist for a dead man, as much as for one who is alive but not aware of 
them; e.g. honours and dishonours and the good or bad fortunes of 
children and in general of descendants. And this also presents a 
problem; for though a man has lived happily up to old age and has 
had a death worthy of his life, many reverses may befall his 
descendants- some of them may be good and attain the life they 
deserve, while with others the opposite may be the case; and clearly 
too the degrees of relationship between them and their ancestors may 
vary indefinitely. It would be odd, then, if the dead man were to 
share in these changes and become at one time happy, at another 
wretched; while it would also be odd if the fortunes of the 
descendants did not for some time have some effect on the happiness 
of their ancestors. 

But we must return to our first difficulty; for perhaps by a 
consideration of it our present problem might be solved. Now if we 
must see the end and only then call a man happy, not as being happy 
but as having been so before, surely this is a paradox, that when he 
is happy the attribute that belongs to him is not to be truly 
predicated of him because we do not wish to call living men happy, 
on account of the changes that may befall them, and because we have 
assumed happiness to be something permanent and by no means easily 
changed, while a single man may suffer many turns of fortune's 
wheel. For clearly if we were to keep pace with his fortunes, we 
should often call the same man happy and again wretched, making the 
happy man out to be chameleon and insecurely based. Or is this keeping 
pace with his fortunes quite wrong? Success or failure in life does 
not depend on these, but human life, as we said, needs these as mere 
additions, while virtuous activities or their opposites are what 
constitute happiness or the reverse. 

The question we have now discussed confirms our definition. For no 
function of man has so much permanence as virtuous activities (these 
are thought to be more durable even than knowledge of the sciences), 
and of these themselves the most valuable are more durable because 
those who are happy spend their life most readily and most 
continuously in these; for this seems to be the reason why we do not 
forget them. The attribute in question, then, will belong to the happy 
man, and he will be happy throughout his life; for always, or by 
preference to everything else, he will be engaged in virtuous action 
and contemplation, and he will bear the chances of life most nobly and 
altogether decorously, if he is 'truly good' and 'foursquare beyond 
reproach ' . 

Now many events happen by chance, and events differing in 
importance; small pieces of good fortune or of its opposite clearly do 
not weigh down the scales of life one way or the other, but a 
multitude of great events if they turn out well will make life happier 
(for not only are they themselves such as to add beauty to life, but 
the way a man deals with them may be noble and good) , while if they 
turn out ill they crush and maim happiness; for they both bring pain 
with them and hinder many activities. Yet even in these nobility 
shines through, when a man bears with resignation many great 
misfortunes, not through insensibility to pain but through nobility 
and greatness of soul. 

If activities are, as we said, what gives life its character, no 
happy man can become miserable; for he will never do the acts that are 
hateful and mean. For the man who is truly good and wise, we think, 
bears all the chances life becomingly and always makes the best of 
circumstances, as a good general makes the best military use of the 
army at his command and a good shoemaker makes the best shoes out of 
the hides that are given him; and so with all other craftsmen. And 
if this is the case, the happy man can never become miserable; 
though he will not reach blessedness, if he meet with fortunes like 
those of Priam. 

Nor, again, is he many-coloured and changeable; for neither will 
he be moved from his happy state easily or by any ordinary 



misadventures, but only by many great ones, nor, if he has had many 
great misadventures, will he recover his happiness in a short time, 
but if at all, only in a long and complete one in which he has 
attained many splendid successes. 

When then should we not say that he is happy who is active in 
accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with 
external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete 
life? Or must we add 'and who is destined to live thus and die as 
befits his life'? Certainly the future is obscure to us, while 
happiness, we claim, is an end and something in every way final. If 
so, we shall call happy those among living men in whom these 
conditions are, and are to be, fulfilled- but happy men. So much for 
these questions . 

11 

That the fortunes of descendants and of all a man's friends should 
not affect his happiness at all seems a very unfriendly doctrine, 
and one opposed to the opinions men hold; but since the events that 
happen are numerous and admit of all sorts of difference, and some 
come more near to us and others less so, it seems a long- nay, an 
infinite- task to discuss each in detail; a general outline will 
perhaps suffice. If, then, as some of a man's own misadventures have a 
certain weight and influence on life while others are, as it were, 
lighter, so too there are differences among the misadventures of our 
friends taken as a whole, and it makes a difference whether the 
various suffering befall the living or the dead (much more even than 
whether lawless and terrible deeds are presupposed in a tragedy or 
done on the stage), this difference also must be taken into account; 
or rather, perhaps, the fact that doubt is felt whether the dead share 
in any good or evil. For it seems, from these considerations, that 
even if anything whether good or evil penetrates to them, it must be 
something weak and negligible, either in itself or for them, or if 
not, at least it must be such in degree and kind as not to make 
happy those who are not happy nor to take away their blessedness 
from those who are. The good or bad fortunes of friends, then, seem to 
have some effects on the dead, but effects of such a kind and degree 
as neither to make the happy unhappy nor to produce any other change 
of the kind. 

12 

These questions having been definitely answered, let us consider 
whether happiness is among the things that are praised or rather among 
the things that are prized; for clearly it is not to be placed among 
potentialities. Everything that is praised seems to be praised because 
it is of a certain kind and is related somehow to something else; 
for we praise the just or brave man and in general both the good man 
and virtue itself because of the actions and functions involved, and 
we praise the strong man, the good runner, and so on, because he is of 
a certain kind and is related in a certain way to something good and 
important. This is clear also from the praises of the gods; for it 
seems absurd that the gods should be referred to our standard, but 
this is done because praise involves a reference, to something else. 
But if if praise is for things such as we have described, clearly what 
applies to the best things is not praise, but something greater and 
better, as is indeed obvious; for what we do to the gods and the 
most godlike of men is to call them blessed and happy. And so too with 
good things; no one praises happiness as he does justice, but rather 
calls it blessed, as being something more divine and better. 

Eudoxus also seems to have been right in his method of advocating 
the supremacy of pleasure; he thought that the fact that, though a 
good, it is not praised indicated it to be better than the things that 
are praised, and that this is what God and the good are; for by 
reference to these all other things are judged. Praise is 
appropriate to virtue, for as a result of virtue men tend to do 



noble deeds, but encomia are bestowed on acts, whether of the body 
or of the soul. But perhaps nicety in these matters is more proper 
to those who have made a study of encomia; to us it is clear from what 
has been said that happiness is among the things that are prized and 
perfect. It seems to be so also from the fact that it is a first 
principle; for it is for the sake of this that we all do all that we 
do, and the first principle and cause of goods is, we claim, something 
prized and divine. 

13 

Since happiness is an activity of soul in accordance with perfect 
virtue, we must consider the nature of virtue; for perhaps we shall 
thus see better the nature of happiness. The true student of politics, 
too, is thought to have studied virtue above all things; for he wishes 
to make his fellow citizens good and obedient to the laws. As an 
example of this we have the lawgivers of the Cretans and the Spartans, 
and any others of the kind that there may have been. And if this 
inquiry belongs to political science, clearly the pursuit of it will 
be in accordance with our original plan. But clearly the virtue we 
must study is human virtue; for the good we were seeking was human 
good and the happiness human happiness. By human virtue we mean not 
that of the body but that of the soul; and happiness also we call an 
activity of soul. But if this is so, clearly the student of politics 
must know somehow the facts about soul, as the man who is to heal 
the eyes or the body as a whole must know about the eyes or the 
body; and all the more since politics is more prized and better than 
medicine; but even among doctors the best educated spend much labour 
on acquiring knowledge of the body. The student of politics, then, 
must study the soul, and must study it with these objects in view, and 
do so just to the extent which is sufficient for the questions we 
are discussing; for further precision is perhaps something more 
laborious than our purposes require. 

Some things are said about it, adequately enough, even in the 
discussions outside our school, and we must use these; e.g. that one 
element in the soul is irrational and one has a rational principle. 
Whether these are separated as the parts of the body or of anything 
divisible are, or are distinct by definition but by nature 
inseparable, like convex and concave in the circumference of a circle, 
does not affect the present question. 

Of the irrational element one division seems to be widely 
distributed, and vegetative in its nature, I mean that which causes 
nutrition and growth; for it is this kind of power of the soul that 
one must assign to all nurslings and to embryos, and this same power 
to fullgrown creatures; this is more reasonable than to assign some 
different power to them. Now the excellence of this seems to be common 
to all species and not specifically human; for this part or faculty 
seems to function most in sleep, while goodness and badness are 
least manifest in sleep (whence comes the saying that the happy are 
not better off than the wretched for half their lives; and this 
happens naturally enough, since sleep is an inactivity of the soul 
in that respect in which it is called good or bad) , unless perhaps 
to a small extent some of the movements actually penetrate to the 
soul, and in this respect the dreams of good men are better than those 
of ordinary people. Enough of this subject, however; let us leave 
the nutritive faculty alone, since it has by its nature no share in 
human excellence. 

There seems to be also another irrational element in the soul-one 
which in a sense, however, shares in a rational principle. For we 
praise the rational principle of the continent man and of the 
incontinent, and the part of their soul that has such a principle, 
since it urges them aright and towards the best objects; but there 
is found in them also another element naturally opposed to the 
rational principle, which fights against and resists that principle. 
For exactly as paralysed limbs when we intend to move them to the 



right turn on the contrary to the left, so is it with the soul; the 
impulses of incontinent people move in contrary directions. But 
while in the body we see that which moves astray, in the soul we do 
not. No doubt, however, we must none the less suppose that in the soul 
too there is something contrary to the rational principle, resisting 
and opposing it. In what sense it is distinct from the other 
elements does not concern us. Now even this seems to have a share in a 
rational principle, as we said; at any rate in the continent man it 
obeys the rational principle and presumably in the temperate and brave 
man it is still more obedient; for in him it speaks, on all matters, 
with the same voice as the rational principle. 

Therefore the irrational element also appears to be two-fold. For 
the vegetative element in no way shares in a rational principle, but 
the appetitive and in general the desiring element in a sense shares 
in it, in so far as it listens to and obeys it; this is the sense in 
which we speak of 'taking account' of one's father or one's friends, 
not that in which we speak of 'accounting for a mathematical property. 
That the irrational element is in some sense persuaded by a rational 
principle is indicated also by the giving of advice and by all reproof 
and exhortation. And if this element also must be said to have a 
rational principle, that which has a rational principle (as well as 
that which has not) will be twofold, one subdivision having it in 
the strict sense and in itself, and the other having a tendency to 
obey as one does one's father. 

Virtue too is distinguished into kinds in accordance with this 
difference; for we say that some of the virtues are intellectual and 
others moral, philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical 
wisdom being intellectual, liberality and temperance moral. For in 
speaking about a man's character we do not say that he is wise or 
has understanding but that he is good-tempered or temperate; yet we 
praise the wise man also with respect to his state of mind; and of 
states of mind we call those which merit praise virtues. 

BOOK II 
1 

VIRTUE, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, 
intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth 
to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), 
while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit, whence also its 
name (ethike) is one that is formed by a slight variation from the 
word ethos (habit) . From this it is also plain that none of the 
moral virtues arises in us by nature; for nothing that exists by 
nature can form a habit contrary to its nature. For instance the stone 
which by nature moves downwards cannot be habituated to move 
upwards, not even if one tries to train it by throwing it up ten 
thousand times; nor can fire be habituated to move downwards, nor 
can anything else that by nature behaves in one way be trained to 
behave in another. Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature 
do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive 
them, and are made perfect by habit. 

Again, of all the things that come to us by nature we first 
acquire the potentiality and later exhibit the activity (this is plain 
in the case of the senses; for it was not by often seeing or often 
hearing that we got these senses, but on the contrary we had them 
before we used them, and did not come to have them by using them) ; but 
the virtues we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the 
case of the arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we 
can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by 
building and lyreplayers by playing the lyre; so too we become just by 
doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing 
brave acts . 

This is confirmed by what happens in states; for legislators make 
the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish of 
every legislator, and those who do not effect it miss their mark, 



and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one. 

Again, it is from the same causes and by the same means that every 
virtue is both produced and destroyed, and similarly every art; for it 
is from playing the lyre that both good and bad lyre-players are 
produced. And the corresponding statement is true of builders and of 
all the rest; men will be good or bad builders as a result of building 
well or badly. For if this were not so, there would have been no 
need of a teacher, but all men would have been born good or bad at 
their craft. This, then, is the case with the virtues also; by doing 
the acts that we do in our transactions with other men we become 
just or unjust, and by doing the acts that we do in the presence of 
danger, and being habituated to feel fear or confidence, we become 
brave or cowardly. The same is true of appetites and feelings of 
anger; some men become temperate and good-tempered, others 
self-indulgent and irascible, by behaving in one way or the other in 
the appropriate circumstances. Thus, in one word, states of 
character arise out of like activities. This is why the activities 
we exhibit must be of a certain kind; it is because the states of 
character correspond to the differences between these. It makes no 
small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of 
another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or 
rather all the difference. 

2 

Since, then, the present inquiry does not aim at theoretical 
knowledge like the others (for we are inquiring not in order to know 
what virtue is, but in order to become good, since otherwise our 
inquiry would have been of no use) , we must examine the nature of 
actions, namely how we ought to do them; for these determine also 
the nature of the states of character that are produced, as we have 
said. Now, that we must act according to the right rule is a common 
principle and must be assumed-it will be discussed later, i.e. both 
what the right rule is, and how it is related to the other virtues. 
But this must be agreed upon beforehand, that the whole account of 
matters of conduct must be given in outline and not precisely, as we 
said at the very beginning that the accounts we demand must be in 
accordance with the subject-matter; matters concerned with conduct and 
questions of what is good for us have no fixity, any more than matters 
of health. The general account being of this nature, the account of 
particular cases is yet more lacking in exactness; for they do not 
fall under any art or precept but the agents themselves must in each 
case consider what is appropriate to the occasion, as happens also 
in the art of medicine or of navigation. 

But though our present account is of this nature we must give what 
help we can. First, then, let us consider this, that it is the 
nature of such things to be destroyed by defect and excess, as we 
see in the case of strength and of health (for to gain light on things 
imperceptible we must use the evidence of sensible things); both 
excessive and defective exercise destroys the strength, and 
similarly drink or food which is above or below a certain amount 
destroys the health, while that which is proportionate both produces 
and increases and preserves it. So too is it, then, in the case of 
temperance and courage and the other virtues. For the man who flies 
from and fears everything and does not stand his ground against 
anything becomes a coward, and the man who fears nothing at all but 
goes to meet every danger becomes rash; and similarly the man who 
indulges in every pleasure and abstains from none becomes 
self-indulgent, while the man who shuns every pleasure, as boors do, 
becomes in a way insensible; temperance and courage, then, are 
destroyed by excess and defect, and preserved by the mean. 

But not only are the sources and causes of their origination and 
growth the same as those of their destruction, but also the sphere 
of their actualization will be the same; for this is also true of 
the things which are more evident to sense, e.g. of strength; it is 



produced by taking much food and undergoing much exertion, and it is 
the strong man that will be most able to do these things. So too is it 
with the virtues; by abstaining from pleasures we become temperate, 
and it is when we have become so that we are most able to abstain from 
them; and similarly too in the case of courage; for by being 
habituated to despise things that are terrible and to stand our ground 
against them we become brave, and it is when we have become so that we 
shall be most able to stand our ground against them. 

3 

We must take as a sign of states of character the pleasure or pain 
that ensues on acts; for the man who abstains from bodily pleasures 
and delights in this very fact is temperate, while the man who is 
annoyed at it is self-indulgent, and he who stands his ground 
against things that are terrible and delights in this or at least is 
not pained is brave, while the man who is pained is a coward. For 
moral excellence is concerned with pleasures and pains; it is on 
account of the pleasure that we do bad things, and on account of the 
pain that we abstain from noble ones . Hence we ought to have been 
brought up in a particular way from our very youth, as Plato says, 
so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought; 
for this is the right education. 

Again, if the virtues are concerned with actions and passions, and 
every passion and every action is accompanied by pleasure and pain, 
for this reason also virtue will be concerned with pleasures and 
pains. This is indicated also by the fact that punishment is inflicted 
by these means; for it is a kind of cure, and it is the nature of 
cures to be effected by contraries. 

Again, as we said but lately, every state of soul has a nature 
relative to and concerned with the kind of things by which it tends to 
be made worse or better; but it is by reason of pleasures and pains 
that men become bad, by pursuing and avoiding these- either the 
pleasures and pains they ought not or when they ought not or as they 
ought not, or by going wrong in one of the other similar ways that may 
be distinguished. Hence men even define the virtues as certain 
states of impassivity and rest; not well, however, because they 
speak absolutely, and do not say 'as one ought' and 'as one ought not' 
and 'when one ought or ought not', and the other things that may be 
added. We assume, then, that this kind of excellence tends to do 
what is best with regard to pleasures and pains, and vice does the 
contrary . 

The following facts also may show us that virtue and vice are 
concerned with these same things. There being three objects of 
choice and three of avoidance, the noble, the advantageous, the 
pleasant, and their contraries, the base, the injurious, the 
painful, about all of these the good man tends to go right and the bad 
man to go wrong, and especially about pleasure; for this is common 
to the animals, and also it accompanies all objects of choice; for 
even the noble and the advantageous appear pleasant. 

Again, it has grown up with us all from our infancy; this is why 
it is difficult to rub off this passion, engrained as it is in our 
life. And we measure even our actions, some of us more and others 
less, by the rule of pleasure and pain. For this reason, then, our 
whole inquiry must be about these; for to feel delight and pain 
rightly or wrongly has no small effect on our actions. 

Again, it is harder to fight with pleasure than with anger, to use 
Heraclitus' phrase', but both art and virtue are always concerned with 
what is harder; for even the good is better when it is harder. 
Therefore for this reason also the whole concern both of virtue and of 
political science is with pleasures and pains; for the man who uses 
these well will be good, he who uses them badly bad. 

That virtue, then, is concerned with pleasures and pains, and that 
by the acts from which it arises it is both increased and, if they are 
done differently, destroyed, and that the acts from which it arose are 



those in which it actualizes itself- let this be taken as said. 

4 

The question might be asked, ; what we mean by saying that we must 
become just by doing just acts, and temperate by doing temperate acts; 
for if men do just and temperate acts, they are already just and 
temperate, exactly as, if they do what is in accordance with the 
laws of grammar and of music, they are grammarians and musicians. 

Or is this not true even of the arts? It is possible to do something 
that is in accordance with the laws of grammar, either by chance or at 
the suggestion of another. A man will be a grammarian, then, only when 
he has both done something grammatical and done it grammatically; 
and this means doing it in accordance with the grammatical knowledge 
in himself. 

Again, the case of the arts and that of the virtues are not similar; 
for the products of the arts have their goodness in themselves, so 
that it is enough that they should have a certain character, but if 
the acts that are in accordance with the virtues have themselves a 
certain character it does not follow that they are done justly or 
temperately. The agent also must be in a certain condition when he 
does them; in the first place he must have knowledge, secondly he must 
choose the acts, and choose them for their own sakes, and thirdly 
his action must proceed from a firm and unchangeable character. 
These are not reckoned in as conditions of the possession of the arts, 
except the bare knowledge; but as a condition of the possession of the 
virtues knowledge has little or no weight, while the other 
conditions count not for a little but for everything, i.e. the very 
conditions which result from often doing just and temperate acts. 

Actions, then, are called just and temperate when they are such as 
the just or the temperate man would do; but it is not the man who does 
these that is just and temperate, but the man who also does them as 
just and temperate men do them. It is well said, then, that it is by 
doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing 
temperate acts the temperate man; without doing these no one would 
have even a prospect of becoming good. 

But most people do not do these, but take refuge in theory and think 
they are being philosophers and will become good in this way, behaving 
somewhat like patients who listen attentively to their doctors, but do 
none of the things they are ordered to do. As the latter will not be 
made well in body by such a course of treatment, the former will not 
be made well in soul by such a course of philosophy. 

5 

Next we must consider what virtue is. Since things that are found in 
the soul are of three kinds- passions, faculties, states of 
character, virtue must be one of these. By passions I mean appetite, 
anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, friendly feeling, hatred, longing, 
emulation, pity, and in general the feelings that are accompanied by 
pleasure or pain; by faculties the things in virtue of which we are 
said to be capable of feeling these, e.g. of becoming angry or being 
pained or feeling pity; by states of character the things in virtue of 
which we stand well or badly with reference to the passions, e.g. with 
reference to anger we stand badly if we feel it violently or too 
weakly, and well if we feel it moderately; and similarly with 
reference to the other passions. 

Now neither the virtues nor the vices are passions, because we are 
not called good or bad on the ground of our passions, but are so 
called on the ground of our virtues and our vices, and because we 
are neither praised nor blamed for our passions (for the man who feels 
fear or anger is not praised, nor is the man who simply feels anger 
blamed, but the man who feels it in a certain way) , but for our 
virtues and our vices we are praised or blamed. 

Again, we feel anger and fear without choice, but the virtues are 
modes of choice or involve choice. Further, in respect of the passions 



we are said to be moved, but in respect of the virtues and the vices 
we are said not to be moved but to be disposed in a particular way. 

For these reasons also they are not faculties; for we are neither 
called good nor bad, nor praised nor blamed, for the simple capacity 
of feeling the passions; again, we have the faculties by nature, but 
we are not made good or bad by nature; we have spoken of this 
before. If, then, the virtues are neither passions nor faculties, 
all that remains is that they should be states of character. 

Thus we have stated what virtue is in respect of its genus. 

6 

We must, however, not only describe virtue as a state of 
character, but also say what sort of state it is. We may remark, then, 
that every virtue or excellence both brings into good condition the 
thing of which it is the excellence and makes the work of that thing 
be done well; e.g. the excellence of the eye makes both the eye and 
its work good; for it is by the excellence of the eye that we see 
well. Similarly the excellence of the horse makes a horse both good in 
itself and good at running and at carrying its rider and at awaiting 
the attack of the enemy. Therefore, if this is true in every case, the 
virtue of man also will be the state of character which makes a man 
good and which makes him do his own work well. 

How this is to happen we have stated already, but it will be made 
plain also by the following consideration of the specific nature of 
virtue. In everything that is continuous and divisible it is 
possible to take more, less, or an equal amount, and that either in 
terms of the thing itself or relatively to us; and the equal is an 
intermediate between excess and defect. By the intermediate in the 
object I mean that which is equidistant from each of the extremes, 
which is one and the same for all men; by the intermediate 
relatively to us that which is neither too much nor too little- and 
this is not one, nor the same for all. For instance, if ten is many 
and two is few, six is the intermediate, taken in terms of the object; 
for it exceeds and is exceeded by an equal amount; this is 
intermediate according to arithmetical proportion. But the 
intermediate relatively to us is not to be taken so; if ten pounds are 
too much for a particular person to eat and two too little, it does 
not follow that the trainer will order six pounds; for this also is 
perhaps too much for the person who is to take it, or too little- too 
little for Milo, too much for the beginner in athletic exercises. 
The same is true of running and wrestling. Thus a master of any art 
avoids excess and defect, but seeks the intermediate and chooses 
this- the intermediate not in the object but relatively to us. 

If it is thus, then, that every art does its work well- by looking 
to the intermediate and judgling its works by this standard (so that 
we often say of good works of art that it is not possible either to 
take away or to add anything, implying that excess and defect 
destroy the goodness of works of art, while the mean preserves it; and 
good artists, as we say, look to this in their work), and if, further, 
virtue is more exact and better than any art, as nature also is, 
then virtue must have the quality of aiming at the intermediate. I 
mean moral virtue; for it is this that is concerned with passions 
and actions, and in these there is excess, defect, and the 
intermediate. For instance, both fear and confidence and appetite 
and anger and pity and in general pleasure and pain may be felt both 
too much and too little, and in both cases not well; but to feel 
them at the right times, with reference to the right objects, 
towards the right people, with the right motive, and in the right way, 
is what is both intermediate and best, and this is characteristic of 
virtue. Similarly with regard to actions also there is excess, defect, 
and the intermediate. Now virtue is concerned with passions and 
actions, in which excess is a form of failure, and so is defect, while 
the intermediate is praised and is a form of success; and being 
praised and being successful are both characteristics of virtue. 



Therefore virtue is a kind of mean, since, as we have seen, it aims at 
what is intermediate. 

Again, it is possible to fail in many ways (for evil belongs to the 
class of the unlimited, as the Pythagoreans conjectured, and good to 
that of the limited) , while to succeed is possible only in one way 
(for which reason also one is easy and the other difficult- to miss 
the mark easy, to hit it difficult) ; for these reasons also, then, 
excess and defect are characteristic of vice, and the mean of virtue; 

For men are good in but one way, but bad in many. 

Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying 
in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a 
rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of 
practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two 
vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on 
defect; and again it is a mean because the vices respectively fall 
short of or exceed what is right in both passions and actions, while 
virtue both finds and chooses that which is intermediate. Hence in 
respect of its substance and the definition which states its essence 
virtue is a mean, with regard to what is best and right an extreme. 

But not every action nor every passion admits of a mean; for some 
have names that already imply badness, e.g. spite, shamelessness, 
envy, and in the case of actions adultery, theft, murder; for all of 
these and suchlike things imply by their names that they are 
themselves bad, and not the excesses or deficiencies of them. It is 
not possible, then, ever to be right with regard to them; one must 
always be wrong. Nor does goodness or badness with regard to such 
things depend on committing adultery with the right woman, at the 
right time, and in the right way, but simply to do any of them is to 
go wrong. It would be equally absurd, then, to expect that in 
unjust, cowardly, and voluptuous action there should be a mean, an 
excess, and a deficiency; for at that rate there would be a mean of 
excess and of deficiency, an excess of excess, and a deficiency of 
deficiency. But as there is no excess and deficiency of temperance and 
courage because what is intermediate is in a sense an extreme, so 
too of the actions we have mentioned there is no mean nor any excess 
and deficiency, but however they are done they are wrong; for in 
general there is neither a mean of excess and deficiency, nor excess 
and deficiency of a mean. 

7 

We must, however, not only make this general statement, but also 
apply it to the individual facts . For among statements about conduct 
those which are general apply more widely, but those which are 
particular are more genuine, since conduct has to do with individual 
cases, and our statements must harmonize with the facts in these 
cases. We may take these cases from our table. With regard to feelings 
of fear and confidence courage is the mean; of the people who 
exceed, he who exceeds in fearlessness has no name (many of the states 
have no name) , while the man who exceeds in confidence is rash, and he 
who exceeds in fear and falls short in confidence is a coward. With 
regard to pleasures and pains- not all of them, and not so much with 
regard to the pains- the mean is temperance, the excess 
self-indulgence. Persons deficient with regard to the pleasures are 
not often found; hence such persons also have received no name. But 
let us call them 'insensible'. 

With regard to giving and taking of money the mean is liberality, 
the excess and the defect prodigality and meanness. In these actions 
people exceed and fall short in contrary ways; the prodigal exceeds in 
spending and falls short in taking, while the mean man exceeds in 
taking and falls short in spending. (At present we are giving a mere 
outline or summary, and are satisfied with this; later these states 
will be more exactly determined.) With regard to money there are 



also other dispositions- a mean, magnificence (for the magnificent 
man differs from the liberal man; the former deals with large sums, 
the latter with small ones), an excess, tastelessness and vulgarity, 
and a deficiency, niggardliness; these differ from the states 
opposed to liberality, and the mode of their difference will be stated 
later. With regard to honour and dishonour the mean is proper pride, 
the excess is known as a sort of 'empty vanity', and the deficiency is 
undue humility; and as we said liberality was related to magnificence, 
differing from it by dealing with small sums, so there is a state 
similarly related to proper pride, being concerned with small 
honours while that is concerned with great. For it is possible to 
desire honour as one ought, and more than one ought, and less, and the 
man who exceeds in his desires is called ambitious, the man who 
falls short unambitious, while the intermediate person has no name. 
The dispositions also are nameless, except that that of the 
ambitious man is called ambition. Hence the people who are at the 
extremes lay claim to the middle place; and we ourselves sometimes 
call the intermediate person ambitious and sometimes unambitious, 
and sometimes praise the ambitious man and sometimes the 
unambitious. The reason of our doing this will be stated in what 
follows; but now let us speak of the remaining states according to the 
method which has been indicated. 

With regard to anger also there is an excess, a deficiency, and a 
mean. Although they can scarcely be said to have names, yet since we 
call the intermediate person good-tempered let us call the mean good 
temper; of the persons at the extremes let the one who exceeds be 
called irascible, and his vice irascibility, and the man who falls 
short an inirascible sort of person, and the deficiency 
inirascibility. 

There are also three other means, which have a certain likeness to 
one another, but differ from one another: for they are all concerned 
with intercourse in words and actions, but differ in that one is 
concerned with truth in this sphere, the other two with 
pleasantness; and of this one kind is exhibited in giving amusement, 
the other in all the circumstances of life. We must therefore speak of 
these too, that we may the better see that in all things the mean is 
praise-worthy, and the extremes neither praiseworthy nor right, but 
worthy of blame. Now most of these states also have no names, but we 
must try, as in the other cases, to invent names ourselves so that 
we may be clear and easy to follow. With regard to truth, then, the 
intermediate is a truthful sort of person and the mean may be called 
truthfulness, while the pretence which exaggerates is boastfulness and 
the person characterized by it a boaster, and that which understates 
is mock modesty and the person characterized by it mock-modest. With 
regard to pleasantness in the giving of amusement the intermediate 
person is ready-witted and the disposition ready wit, the excess is 
buffoonery and the person characterized by it a buffoon, while the man 
who falls short is a sort of boor and his state is boorishness. With 
regard to the remaining kind of pleasantness, that which is 
exhibited in life in general, the man who is pleasant in the right way 
is friendly and the mean is friendliness, while the man who exceeds is 
an obsequious person if he has no end in view, a flatterer if he is 
aiming at his own advantage, and the man who falls short and is 
unpleasant in all circumstances is a quarrelsome and surly sort of 
person . 

There are also means in the passions and concerned with the 
passions; since shame is not a virtue, and yet praise is extended to 
the modest man. For even in these matters one man is said to be 
intermediate, and another to exceed, as for instance the bashful man 
who is ashamed of everything; while he who falls short or is not 
ashamed of anything at all is shameless, and the intermediate person 
is modest. Righteous indignation is a mean between envy and spite, and 
these states are concerned with the pain and pleasure that are felt at 
the fortunes of our neighbours; the man who is characterized by 



righteous indignation is pained at undeserved good fortune, the 
envious man, going beyond him, is pained at all good fortune, and 
the spiteful man falls so far short of being pained that he even 
rejoices. But these states there will be an opportunity of 
describing elsewhere; with regard to justice, since it has not one 
simple meaning, we shall, after describing the other states, 
distinguish its two kinds and say how each of them is a mean; and 
similarly we shall treat also of the rational virtues. 



There are three kinds of disposition, then, two of them vices, 
involving excess and deficiency respectively, and one a virtue, viz. 
the mean, and all are in a sense opposed to all; for the extreme 
states are contrary both to the intermediate state and to each 
other, and the intermediate to the extremes; as the equal is greater 
relatively to the less, less relatively to the greater, so the 
middle states are excessive relatively to the deficiencies, 
deficient relatively to the excesses, both in passions and in actions. 
For the brave man appears rash relatively to the coward, and 
cowardly relatively to the rash man; and similarly the temperate man 
appears self-indulgent relatively to the insensible man, insensible 
relatively to the self-indulgent, and the liberal man prodigal 
relatively to the mean man, mean relatively to the prodigal. Hence 
also the people at the extremes push the intermediate man each over to 
the other, and the brave man is called rash by the coward, cowardly by 
the rash man, and correspondingly in the other cases. 

These states being thus opposed to one another, the greatest 
contrariety is that of the extremes to each other, rather than to 
the intermediate; for these are further from each other than from 
the intermediate, as the great is further from the small and the small 
from the great than both are from the equal. Again, to the 
intermediate some extremes show a certain likeness, as that of 
rashness to courage and that of prodigality to liberality; but the 
extremes show the greatest unlikeness to each other; now contraries 
are defined as the things that are furthest from each other, so that 
things that are further apart are more contrary. 

To the mean in some cases the deficiency, in some the excess is more 
opposed; e.g. it is not rashness, which is an excess, but cowardice, 
which is a deficiency, that is more opposed to courage, and not 
insensibility, which is a deficiency, but self-indulgence, which is an 
excess, that is more opposed to temperance. This happens from two 
reasons, one being drawn from the thing itself; for because one 
extreme is nearer and liker to the intermediate, we oppose not this 
but rather its contrary to the intermediate. E.g. since rashness is 
thought liker and nearer to courage, and cowardice more unlike, we 
oppose rather the latter to courage; for things that are further 
from the intermediate are thought more contrary to it. This, then, 
is one cause, drawn from the thing itself; another is drawn from 
ourselves; for the things to which we ourselves more naturally tend 
seem more contrary to the intermediate. For instance, we ourselves 
tend more naturally to pleasures, and hence are more easily carried 
away towards self-indulgence than towards propriety. We describe as 
contrary to the mean, then, rather the directions in which we more 
often go to great lengths; and therefore self-indulgence, which is 
an excess, is the more contrary to temperance. 

9 

That moral virtue is a mean, then, and in what sense it is so, and 
that it is a mean between two vices, the one involving excess, the 
other deficiency, and that it is such because its character is to 
aim at what is intermediate in passions and in actions, has been 
sufficiently stated. Hence also it is no easy task to be good. For 
in everything it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find 
the middle of a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, 



too, any one can get angry- that is easy- or give or spend money; but 
to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right 
time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for 
every one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and 
laudable and noble. 

Hence he who aims at the intermediate must first depart from what is 
the more contrary to it, as Calypso advises- 

Hold the ship out beyond that surf and spray. 

For of the extremes one is more erroneous, one less so; therefore, 
since to hit the mean is hard in the extreme, we must as a second 
best, as people say, take the least of the evils; and this will be 
done best in the way we describe. But we must consider the things 
towards which we ourselves also are easily carried away; for some of 
us tend to one thing, some to another; and this will be recognizable 
from the pleasure and the pain we feel . We must drag ourselves away to 
the contrary extreme; for we shall get into the intermediate state 
by drawing well away from error, as people do in straightening 
sticks that are bent. 

Now in everything the pleasant or pleasure is most to be guarded 
against; for we do not judge it impartially. We ought, then, to feel 
towards pleasure as the elders of the people felt towards Helen, and 
in all circumstances repeat their saying; for if we dismiss pleasure 
thus we are less likely to go astray. It is by doing this, then, (to 
sum the matter up) that we shall best be able to hit the mean. 

But this is no doubt difficult, and especially in individual 
cases; for or is not easy to determine both how and with whom and on 
what provocation and how long one should be angry; for we too 
sometimes praise those who fall short and call them good-tempered, but 
sometimes we praise those who get angry and call them manly. The 
man, however, who deviates little from goodness is not blamed, whether 
he do so in the direction of the more or of the less, but only the man 
who deviates more widely; for he does not fail to be noticed. But up 
to what point and to what extent a man must deviate before he 
becomes blameworthy it is not easy to determine by reasoning, any more 
than anything else that is perceived by the senses; such things depend 
on particular facts, and the decision rests with perception. So 
much, then, is plain, that the intermediate state is in all things 
to be praised, but that we must incline sometimes towards the 
excess, sometimes towards the deficiency; for so shall we most 
easily hit the mean and what is right. 

BOOK III 
1 

SINCE virtue is concerned with passions and actions, and on 
voluntary passions and actions praise and blame are bestowed, on those 
that are involuntary pardon, and sometimes also pity, to distinguish 
the voluntary and the involuntary is presumably necessary for those 
who are studying the nature of virtue, and useful also for legislators 
with a view to the assigning both of honours and of punishments. Those 
things, then, are thought-involuntary, which take place under 
compulsion or owing to ignorance; and that is compulsory of which 
the moving principle is outside, being a principle in which nothing is 
contributed by the person who is acting or is feeling the passion, 
e.g. if he were to be carried somewhere by a wind, or by men who had 
him in their power. 

But with regard to the things that are done from fear of greater 
evils or for some noble object (e.g. if a tyrant were to order one 
to do something base, having one's parents and children in his 
power, and if one did the action they were to be saved, but 
otherwise would be put to death) , it may be debated whether such 
actions are involuntary or voluntary. Something of the sort happens 
also with regard to the throwing of goods overboard in a storm; for in 



the abstract no one throws goods away voluntarily, but on condition of 
its securing the safety of himself and his crew any sensible man 
does so. Such actions, then, are mixed, but are more like voluntary 
actions; for they are worthy of choice at the time when they are done, 
and the end of an action is relative to the occasion. Both the 
terms, then, 'voluntary' and 'involuntary', must be used with 
reference to the moment of action. Now the man acts voluntarily; for 
the principle that moves the instrumental parts of the body in such 
actions is in him, and the things of which the moving principle is 
in a man himself are in his power to do or not to do. Such actions, 
therefore, are voluntary, but in the abstract perhaps involuntary; for 
no one would choose any such act in itself. 

For such actions men are sometimes even praised, when they endure 
something base or painful in return for great and noble objects 
gained; in the opposite case they are blamed, since to endure the 
greatest indignities for no noble end or for a trifling end is the 
mark of an inferior person. On some actions praise indeed is not 
bestowed, but pardon is, when one does what he ought not under 
pressure which overstrains human nature and which no one could 
withstand. But some acts, perhaps, we cannot be forced to do, but 
ought rather to face death after the most fearful sufferings; for 
the things that 'forced' Euripides Alcmaeon to slay his mother seem 
absurd. It is difficult sometimes to determine what should be chosen 
at what cost, and what should be endured in return for what gain, 
and yet more difficult to abide by our decisions; for as a rule what 
is expected is painful, and what we are forced to do is base, whence 
praise and blame are bestowed on those who have been compelled or have 
not . 

What sort of acts, then, should be called compulsory? We answer that 
without qualification actions are so when the cause is in the external 
circumstances and the agent contributes nothing. But the things that 
in themselves are involuntary, but now and in return for these gains 
are worthy of choice, and whose moving principle is in the agent, 
are in themselves involuntary, but now and in return for these gains 
voluntary. They are more like voluntary acts; for actions are in the 
class of particulars, and the particular acts here are voluntary. What 
sort of things are to be chosen, and in return for what, it is not 
easy to state; for there are many differences in the particular cases. 

But if some one were to say that pleasant and noble objects have a 
compelling power, forcing us from without, all acts would be for him 
compulsory; for it is for these objects that all men do everything 
they do. And those who act under compulsion and unwillingly act with 
pain, but those who do acts for their pleasantness and nobility do 
them with pleasure; it is absurd to make external circumstances 
responsible, and not oneself, as being easily caught by such 
attractions, and to make oneself responsible for noble acts but the 
pleasant objects responsible for base acts. The compulsory, then, 
seems to be that whose moving principle is outside, the person 
compelled contributing nothing. 

Everything that is done by reason of ignorance is not voluntary; 
it is only what produces pain and repentance that is involuntary. 
For the man who has done something owing to ignorance, and feels not 
the least vexation at his action, has not acted voluntarily, since 
he did not know what he was doing, nor yet involuntarily, since he 
is not pained. Of people, then, who act by reason of ignorance he 
who repents is thought an involuntary agent, and the man who does 
not repent may, since he is different, be called a not voluntary 
agent; for, since he differs from the other, it is better that he 
should have a name of his own. 

Acting by reason of ignorance seems also to be different from acting 
in ignorance; for the man who is drunk or in a rage is thought to 
act as a result not of ignorance but of one of the causes mentioned, 
yet not knowingly but in ignorance. 

Now every wicked man is ignorant of what he ought to do and what 



he ought to abstain from, and it is by reason of error of this kind 
that men become unjust and in general bad; but the term 
'involuntary' tends to be used not if a man is ignorant of what is 
to his advantage- for it is not mistaken purpose that causes 
involuntary action (it leads rather to wickedness), nor ignorance of 
the universal (for that men are blamed), but ignorance of particulars, 
i.e. of the circumstances of the action and the objects with which 
it is concerned. For it is on these that both pity and pardon 
depend, since the person who is ignorant of any of these acts 
involuntarily . 

Perhaps it is just as well, therefore, to determine their nature and 
number. A man may be ignorant, then, of who he is, what he is doing, 
what or whom he is acting on, and sometimes also what (e.g. what 
instrument) he is doing it with, and to what end (e.g. he may think 
his act will conduce to some one's safety), and how he is doing it 
(e.g. whether gently or violently) . Now of all of these no one could 
be ignorant unless he were mad, and evidently also he could not be 
ignorant of the agent; for how could he not know himself? But of 
what he is doing a man might be ignorant, as for instance people say 
'it slipped out of their mouths as they were speaking', or 'they did 
not know it was a secret', as Aeschylus said of the mysteries, or a 
man might say he 'let it go off when he merely wanted to show its 
working', as the man did with the catapult. Again, one might think 
one's son was an enemy, as Merope did, or that a pointed spear had a 
button on it, or that a stone was pumicestone; or one might give a man 
a draught to save him, and really kill him; or one might want to touch 
a man, as people do in sparring, and really wound him. The ignorance 
may relate, then, to any of these things, i.e. of the circumstances of 
the action, and the man who was ignorant of any of these is thought to 
have acted involuntarily, and especially if he was ignorant on the 
most important points; and these are thought to be the circumstances 
of the action and its end. Further, the doing of an act that is called 
involuntary in virtue of ignorance of this sort must be painful and 
involve repentance. 

Since that which is done under compulsion or by reason of 
ignorance is involuntary, the voluntary would seem to be that of which 
the moving principle is in the agent himself, he being aware of the 
particular circumstances of the action. Presumably acts done by reason 
of anger or appetite are not rightly called involuntary. For in the 
first place, on that showing none of the other animals will act 
voluntarily, nor will children; and secondly, is it meant that we do 
not do voluntarily any of the acts that are due to appetite or 
anger, or that we do the noble acts voluntarily and the base acts 
involuntarily? Is not this absurd, when one and the same thing is 
the cause? But it would surely be odd to describe as involuntary the 
things one ought to desire; and we ought both to be angry at certain 
things and to have an appetite for certain things, e.g. for health and 
for learning. Also what is involuntary is thought to be painful, but 
what is in accordance with appetite is thought to be pleasant. 
Again, what is the difference in respect of involuntariness between 
errors committed upon calculation and those committed in anger? Both 
are to be avoided, but the irrational passions are thought not less 
human than reason is, and therefore also the actions which proceed 
from anger or appetite are the man's actions. It would be odd, then, 
to treat them as involuntary. 

2 

Both the voluntary and the involuntary having been delimited, we 
must next discuss choice; for it is thought to be most closely bound 
up with virtue and to discriminate characters better than actions do. 

Choice, then, seems to be voluntary, but not the same thing as the 
voluntary; the latter extends more widely. For both children and the 
lower animals share in voluntary action, but not in choice, and acts 
done on the spur of the moment we describe as voluntary, but not as 



chosen . 

Those who say it is appetite or anger or wish or a kind of opinion 
do not seem to be right. For choice is not common to irrational 
creatures as well, but appetite and anger are. Again, the 
incontinent man acts with appetite, but not with choice; while the 
continent man on the contrary acts with choice, but not with appetite. 
Again, appetite is contrary to choice, but not appetite to appetite. 
Again, appetite relates to the pleasant and the painful, choice 
neither to the painful nor to the pleasant. 

Still less is it anger; for acts due to anger are thought to be less 
than any others objects of choice. 

But neither is it wish, though it seems near to it; for choice 
cannot relate to impossibles, and if any one said he chose them he 
would be thought silly; but there may be a wish even for 
impossibles, e.g. for immortality. And wish may relate to things 
that could in no way be brought about by one's own efforts, e.g. 
that a particular actor or athlete should win in a competition; but no 
one chooses such things, but only the things that he thinks could be 
brought about by his own efforts. Again, wish relates rather to the 
end, choice to the means; for instance, we wish to be healthy, but 
we choose the acts which will make us healthy, and we wish to be happy 
and say we do, but we cannot well say we choose to be so; for, in 
general, choice seems to relate to the things that are in our own 
power . 

For this reason, too, it cannot be opinion; for opinion is thought 
to relate to all kinds of things, no less to eternal things and 
impossible things than to things in our own power; and it is 
distinguished by its falsity or truth, not by its badness or goodness, 
while choice is distinguished rather by these. 

Now with opinion in general perhaps no one even says it is 
identical. But it is not identical even with any kind of opinion; 
for by choosing what is good or bad we are men of a certain character, 
which we are not by holding certain opinions. And we choose to get 
or avoid something good or bad, but we have opinions about what a 
thing is or whom it is good for or how it is good for him; we can 
hardly be said to opine to get or avoid anything. And choice is 
praised for being related to the right object rather than for being 
rightly related to it, opinion for being truly related to its 
object. And we choose what we best know to be good, but we opine 
what we do not quite know; and it is not the same people that are 
thought to make the best choices and to have the best opinions, but 
some are thought to have fairly good opinions, but by reason of vice 
to choose what they should not. If opinion precedes choice or 
accompanies it, that makes no difference; for it is not this that we 
are considering, but whether it is identical with some kind of 
opinion . 

What, then, or what kind of thing is it, since it is none of the 
things we have mentioned? It seems to be voluntary, but not all that 
is voluntary to be an object of choice. Is it, then, what has been 
decided on by previous deliberation? At any rate choice involves a 
rational principle and thought. Even the name seems to suggest that it 
is what is chosen before other things. 

3 

Do we deliberate about everything, and is everything a possible 
subject of deliberation, or is deliberation impossible about some 
things? We ought presumably to call not what a fool or a madman 
would deliberate about, but what a sensible man would deliberate 
about, a subject of deliberation. Now about eternal things no one 
deliberates, e.g. about the material universe or the 

incommensurability of the diagonal and the side of a square. But no 
more do we deliberate about the things that involve movement but 
always happen in the same way, whether of necessity or by nature or 
from any other cause, e.g. the solstices and the risings of the stars; 



nor about things that happen now in one way, now in another, e.g. 
droughts and rains; nor about chance events, like the finding of 
treasure. But we do not deliberate even about all human affairs; for 
instance, no Spartan deliberates about the best constitution for the 
Scythians. For none of these things can be brought about by our own 
efforts . 

We deliberate about things that are in our power and can be done; 
and these are in fact what is left. For nature, necessity, and 
chance are thought to be causes, and also reason and everything that 
depends on man. Now every class of men deliberates about the things 
that can be done by their own efforts. And in the case of exact and 
self-contained sciences there is no deliberation, e.g. about the 
letters of the alphabet (for we have no doubt how they should be 
written); but the things that are brought about by our own efforts, 
but not always in the same way, are the things about which we 
deliberate, e.g. questions of medical treatment or of money-making. 
And we do so more in the case of the art of navigation than in that of 
gymnastics, inasmuch as it has been less exactly worked out, and again 
about other things in the same ratio, and more also in the case of the 
arts than in that of the sciences; for we have more doubt about the 
former. Deliberation is concerned with things that happen in a certain 
way for the most part, but in which the event is obscure, and with 
things in which it is indeterminate. We call in others to aid us in 
deliberation on important questions, distrusting ourselves as not 
being equal to deciding. 

We deliberate not about ends but about means. For a doctor does 
not deliberate whether he shall heal, nor an orator whether he shall 
persuade, nor a statesman whether he shall produce law and order, 
nor does any one else deliberate about his end. They assume the end 
and consider how and by what means it is to be attained; and if it 
seems to be produced by several means they consider by which it is 
most easily and best produced, while if it is achieved by one only 
they consider how it will be achieved by this and by what means this 
will be achieved, till they come to the first cause, which in the 
order of discovery is last. For the person who deliberates seems to 
investigate and analyse in the way described as though he were 
analysing a geometrical construction (not all investigation appears to 
be deliberation- for instance mathematical investigations- but all 
deliberation is investigation) , and what is last in the order of 
analysis seems to be first in the order of becoming. And if we come on 
an impossibility, we give up the search, e.g. if we need money and 
this cannot be got; but if a thing appears possible we try to do it. 
By 'possible' things I mean things that might be brought about by 
our own efforts; and these in a sense include things that can be 
brought about by the efforts of our friends, since the moving 
principle is in ourselves. The subject of investigation is sometimes 
the instruments, sometimes the use of them; and similarly in the other 
cases- sometimes the means, sometimes the mode of using it or the 
means of bringing it about. It seems, then, as has been said, that man 
is a moving principle of actions; now deliberation is about the things 
to be done by the agent himself, and actions are for the sake of 
things other than themselves. For the end cannot be a subject of 
deliberation, but only the means; nor indeed can the particular 
facts be a subject of it, as whether this is bread or has been baked 
as it should; for these are matters of perception. If we are to be 
always deliberating, we shall have to go on to infinity. 

The same thing is deliberated upon and is chosen, except that the 
object of choice is already determinate, since it is that which has 
been decided upon as a result of deliberation that is the object of 
choice. For every one ceases to inquire how he is to act when he has 
brought the moving principle back to himself and to the ruling part of 
himself; for this is what chooses. This is plain also from the ancient 
constitutions, which Homer represented; for the kings announced 
their choices to the people. The object of choice being one of the 



things in our own power which is desired after deliberation, choice 
will be deliberate desire of things in our own power; for when we have 
decided as a result of deliberation, we desire in accordance with 
our deliberation. 

We may take it, then, that we have described choice in outline, 
and stated the nature of its objects and the fact that it is concerned 
with means . 

4 

That wish is for the end has already been stated; some think it is 
for the good, others for the apparent good. Now those who say that the 
good is the object of wish must admit in consequence that that which 
the man who does not choose aright wishes for is not an object of wish 
(for if it is to be so, it must also be good; but it was, if it so 
happened, bad); while those who say the apparent good is the object of 
wish must admit that there is no natural object of wish, but only what 
seems good to each man. Now different things appear good to 
different people, and, if it so happens, even contrary things. 

If these consequences are unpleasing, are we to say that 
absolutely and in truth the good is the object of wish, but for each 
person the apparent good; that that which is in truth an object of 
wish is an object of wish to the good man, while any chance thing 
may be so the bad man, as in the case of bodies also the things that 
are in truth wholesome are wholesome for bodies which are in good 
condition, while for those that are diseased other things are 
wholesome- or bitter or sweet or hot or heavy, and so on; since the 
good man judges each class of things rightly, and in each the truth 
appears to him? For each state of character has its own ideas of the 
noble and the pleasant, and perhaps the good man differs from others 
most by seeing the truth in each class of things, being as it were the 
norm and measure of them. In most things the error seems to be due 
to pleasure; for it appears a good when it is not. We therefore choose 
the pleasant as a good, and avoid pain as an evil. 

5 

The end, then, being what we wish for, the means what we 
deliberate about and choose, actions concerning means must be 
according to choice and voluntary. Now the exercise of the virtues 
is concerned with means. Therefore virtue also is in our own power, 
and so too vice. For where it is in our power to act it is also in our 
power not to act, and vice versa; so that, if to act, where this is 
noble, is in our power, not to act, which will be base, will also be 
in our power, and if not to act, where this is noble, is in our power, 
to act, which will be base, will also be in our power. Now if it is in 
our power to do noble or base acts, and likewise in our power not to 
do them, and this was what being good or bad meant, then it is in 
our power to be virtuous or vicious . 

The saying that 'no one is voluntarily wicked nor involuntarily 
happy' seems to be partly false and partly true; for no one is 
involuntarily happy, but wickedness is voluntary. Or else we shall 
have to dispute what has just been said, at any rate, and deny that 
man is a moving principle or begetter of his actions as of children. 
But if these facts are evident and we cannot refer actions to moving 
principles other than those in ourselves, the acts whose moving 
principles are in us must themselves also be in our power and 
voluntary . 

Witness seems to be borne to this both by individuals in their 
private capacity and by legislators themselves; for these punish and 
take vengeance on those who do wicked acts (unless they have acted 
under compulsion or as a result of ignorance for which they are not 
themselves responsible), while they honour those who do noble acts, as 
though they meant to encourage the latter and deter the former. But no 
one is encouraged to do the things that are neither in our power nor 
voluntary; it is assumed that there is no gain in being persuaded 



not to be hot or in pain or hungry or the like, since we shall 
experience these feelings none the less. Indeed, we punish a man for 
his very ignorance, if he is thought responsible for the ignorance, as 
when penalties are doubled in the case of drunkenness; for the 
moving principle is in the man himself, since he had the power of 
not getting drunk and his getting drunk was the cause of his 
ignorance. And we punish those who are ignorant of anything in the 
laws that they ought to know and that is not difficult, and so too 
in the case of anything else that they are thought to be ignorant of 
through carelessness; we assume that it is in their power not to be 
ignorant, since they have the power of taking care. 

But perhaps a man is the kind of man not to take care. Still they 
are themselves by their slack lives responsible for becoming men of 
that kind, and men make themselves responsible for being unjust or 
self-indulgent, in the one case by cheating and in the other by 
spending their time in drinking bouts and the like; for it is 
activities exercised on particular objects that make the corresponding 
character. This is plain from the case of people training for any 
contest or action; they practise the activity the whole time. Now 
not to know that it is from the exercise of activities on particular 
objects that states of character are produced is the mark of a 
thoroughly senseless person. Again, it is irrational to suppose that a 
man who acts unjustly does not wish to be unjust or a man who acts 
self-indulgently to be self-indulgent. But if without being ignorant a 
man does the things which will make him unjust, he will be unjust 
voluntarily. Yet it does not follow that if he wishes he will cease to 
be unjust and will be just. For neither does the man who is ill become 
well on those terms. We may suppose a case in which he is ill 
voluntarily, through living incontinently and disobeying his 
doctors. In that case it was then open to him not to be ill, but not 
now, when he has thrown away his chance, just as when you have let a 
stone go it is too late to recover it; but yet it was in your power to 
throw it, since the moving principle was in you. So, too, to the 
unjust and to the self-indulgent man it was open at the beginning 
not to become men of this kind, and so they are unjust and 
self indulgent voluntarily; but now that they have become so it is 
not possible for them not to be so. 

But not only are the vices of the soul voluntary, but those of the 
body also for some men, whom we accordingly blame; while no one blames 
those who are ugly by nature, we blame those who are so owing to 
want of exercise and care. So it is, too, with respect to weakness and 
infirmity; no one would reproach a man blind from birth or by 
disease or from a blow, but rather pity him, while every one would 
blame a man who was blind from drunkenness or some other form of 
self-indulgence. Of vices of the body, then, those in our own power 
are blamed, those not in our power are not. And if this be so, in 
the other cases also the vices that are blamed must be in our own 
power . 

Now some one may say that all men desire the apparent good, but have 
no control over the appearance, but the end appears to each man in a 
form answering to his character. We reply that if each man is 
somehow responsible for his state of mind, he will also be himself 
somehow responsible for the appearance; but if not, no one is 
responsible for his own evildoing, but every one does evil acts 
through ignorance of the end, thinking that by these he will get 
what is best, and the aiming at the end is not self-chosen but one 
must be born with an eye, as it were, by which to judge rightly and 
choose what is truly good, and he is well endowed by nature who is 
well endowed with this. For it is what is greatest and most noble, and 
what we cannot get or learn from another, but must have just such as 
it was when given us at birth, and to be well and nobly endowed with 
this will be perfect and true excellence of natural endowment. If this 
is true, then, how will virtue be more voluntary than vice? To both 
men alike, the good and the bad, the end appears and is fixed by 



nature or however it may be, and it is by referring everything else to 
this that men do whatever they do. 

Whether, then, it is not by nature that the end appears to each 
man such as it does appear, but something also depends on him, or 
the end is natural but because the good man adopts the means 
voluntarily virtue is voluntary, vice also will be none the less 
voluntary; for in the case of the bad man there is equally present 
that which depends on himself in his actions even if not in his end. 
If, then, as is asserted, the virtues are voluntary (for we are 
ourselves somehow partly responsible for our states of character, 
and it is by being persons of a certain kind that we assume the end to 
be so and so) , the vices also will be voluntary; for the same is 
true of them. 

With regard to the virtues in general we have stated their genus 
in outline, viz. that they are means and that they are states of 
character, and that they tend, and by their own nature, to the doing 
of the acts by which they are produced, and that they are in our power 
and voluntary, and act as the right rule prescribes. But actions and 
states of character are not voluntary in the same way; for we are 
masters of our actions from the beginning right to the end, if we know 
the particular facts, but though we control the beginning of our 
states of character the gradual progress is not obvious any more 
than it is in illnesses; because it was in our power, however, to 
act in this way or not in this way, therefore the states are 
voluntary . 

Let us take up the several virtues, however, and say which they 
are and what sort of things they are concerned with and how they are 
concerned with them; at the same time it will become plain how many 
they are. And first let us speak of courage. 

6 

That it is a mean with regard to feelings of fear and confidence has 
already been made evident; and plainly the things we fear are terrible 
things, and these are, to speak without qualification, evils; for 
which reason people even define fear as expectation of evil. Now we 
fear all evils, e.g. disgrace, poverty, disease, f riendlessness, 
death, but the brave man is not thought to be concerned with all; 
for to fear some things is even right and noble, and it is base not to 
fear them- e.g. disgrace; he who fears this is good and modest, and 
he who does not is shameless. He is, however, by some people called 
brave, by a transference of the word to a new meaning; for he has in 
him something which is like the brave man, since the brave man also is 
a fearless person. Poverty and disease we perhaps ought not to fear, 
nor in general the things that do not proceed from vice and are not 
due to a man himself. But not even the man who is fearless of these is 
brave. Yet we apply the word to him also in virtue of a similarity; 
for some who in the dangers of war are cowards are liberal and are 
confident in face of the loss of money. Nor is a man a coward if he 
fears insult to his wife and children or envy or anything of the kind; 
nor brave if he is confident when he is about to be flogged. With what 
sort of terrible things, then, is the brave man concerned? Surely with 
the greatest; for no one is more likely than he to stand his ground 
against what is awe-inspiring. Now death is the most terrible of all 
things; for it is the end, and nothing is thought to be any longer 
either good or bad for the dead. But the brave man would not seem to 
be concerned even with death in all circumstances, e.g. at sea or in 
disease. In what circumstances, then? Surely in the noblest. Now 
such deaths are those in battle; for these take place in the 
greatest and noblest danger. And these are correspondingly honoured in 
city-states and at the courts of monarchs . Properly, then, he will 
be called brave who is fearless in face of a noble death, and of all 
emergencies that involve death; and the emergencies of war are in 
the highest degree of this kind. Yet at sea also, and in disease, 
the brave man is fearless, but not in the same way as the seaman; 



for he has given up hope of safety, and is disliking the thought of 
death in this shape, while they are hopeful because of their 
experience. At the same time, we show courage in situations where 
there is the opportunity of showing prowess or where death is noble; 
but in these forms of death neither of these conditions is fulfilled. 

7 

What is terrible is not the same for all men; but we say there are 
things terrible even beyond human strength. These, then, are terrible 
to every one- at least to every sensible man; but the terrible 
things that are not beyond human strength differ in magnitude and 
degree, and so too do the things that inspire confidence. Now the 
brave man is as dauntless as man may be. Therefore, while he will fear 
even the things that are not beyond human strength, he will face 
them as he ought and as the rule directs, for honour's sake; for 
this is the end of virtue. But it is possible to fear these more, or 
less, and again to fear things that are not terrible as if they 
were. Of the faults that are committed one consists in fearing what 
one should not, another in fearing as we should not, another in 
fearing when we should not, and so on; and so too with respect to 
the things that inspire confidence. The man, then, who faces and who 
fears the right things and from the right motive, in the right way and 
from the right time, and who feels confidence under the 
corresponding conditions, is brave; for the brave man feels and acts 
according to the merits of the case and in whatever way the rule 
directs. Now the end of every activity is conformity to the 
corresponding state of character. This is true, therefore, of the 
brave man as well as of others. But courage is noble. Therefore the 
end also is noble; for each thing is defined by its end. Therefore 
it is for a noble end that the brave man endures and acts as courage 
directs . 

Of those who go to excess he who exceeds in fearlessness has no name 
(we have said previously that many states of character have no names), 
but he would be a sort of madman or insensible person if he feared 
nothing, neither earthquakes nor the waves, as they say the Celts do 
not; while the man who exceeds in confidence about what really is 
terrible is rash. The rash man, however, is also thought to be 
boastful and only a pretender to courage; at all events, as the 
brave man is with regard to what is terrible, so the rash man wishes 
to appear; and so he imitates him in situations where he can. Hence 
also most of them are a mixture of rashness and cowardice; for, 
while in these situations they display confidence, they do not hold 
their ground against what is really terrible. The man who exceeds in 
fear is a coward; for he fears both what he ought not and as he 
ought not, and all the similar characterizations attach to him. He 
is lacking also in confidence; but he is more conspicuous for his 
excess of fear in painful situations. The coward, then, is a 
despairing sort of person; for he fears everything. The brave man, 
on the other hand, has the opposite disposition; for confidence is the 
mark of a hopeful disposition. The coward, the rash man, and the brave 
man, then, are concerned with the same objects but are differently 
disposed towards them; for the first two exceed and fall short, 
while the third holds the middle, which is the right, position; and 
rash men are precipitate, and wish for dangers beforehand but draw 
back when they are in them, while brave men are keen in the moment 
of action, but quiet beforehand. 

As we have said, then, courage is a mean with respect to things that 
inspire confidence or fear, in the circumstances that have been 
stated; and it chooses or endures things because it is noble to do so, 
or because it is base not to do so. But to die to escape from 
poverty or love or anything painful is not the mark of a brave man, 
but rather of a coward; for it is softness to fly from what is 
troublesome, and such a man endures death not because it is noble 
but to fly from evil. 



Courage, then, is something of this sort, but the name is also 
applied to five other kinds. 

First comes the courage of the citizen-soldier; for this is most 
like true courage. Citizen-soldiers seem to face dangers because of 
the penalties imposed by the laws and the reproaches they would 
otherwise incur, and because of the honours they win by such action; 
and therefore those peoples seem to be bravest among whom cowards 
are held in dishonour and brave men in honour. This is the kind of 
courage that Homer depicts, e.g. in Diomede and in Hector: 

First will Polydamas be to heap reproach on me then; and 

For Hector one day 'mid the Trojans shall utter his vaulting 

harangue : 
Afraid was Tydeides, and fled from my face. 

This kind of courage is most like to that which we described 
earlier, because it is due to virtue; for it is due to shame and to 
desire of a noble object (i.e. honour) and avoidance of disgrace, 
which is ignoble. One might rank in the same class even those who 
are compelled by their rulers; but they are inferior, inasmuch as they 
do what they do not from shame but from fear, and to avoid not what is 
disgraceful but what is painful; for their masters compel them, as 
Hector does: 

But if I shall spy any dastard that cowers far from the fight, 
Vainly will such an one hope to escape from the dogs. 

And those who give them their posts, and beat them if they 
retreat, do the same, and so do those who draw them up with trenches 
or something of the sort behind them; all of these apply compulsion. 
But one ought to be brave not under compulsion but because it is noble 
to be so. 

(2) Experience with regard to particular facts is also thought to be 
courage; this is indeed the reason why Socrates thought courage was 
knowledge. Other people exhibit this quality in other dangers, and 
professional soldiers exhibit it in the dangers of war; for there seem 
to be many empty alarms in war, of which these have had the most 
comprehensive experience; therefore they seem brave, because the 
others do not know the nature of the facts. Again, their experience 
makes them most capable in attack and in defence, since they can use 
their arms and have the kind that are likely to be best both for 
attack and for defence; therefore they fight like armed men against 
unarmed or like trained athletes against amateurs; for in such 
contests too it is not the bravest men that fight best, but those 

who are strongest and have their bodies in the best condition. 
Professional soldiers turn cowards, however, when the danger puts 
too great a strain on them and they are inferior in numbers and 
equipment; for they are the first to fly, while citizen-forces die 
at their posts, as in fact happened at the temple of Hermes. For to 
the latter flight is disgraceful and death is preferable to safety 
on those terms; while the former from the very beginning faced the 
danger on the assumption that they were stronger, and when they know 
the facts they fly, fearing death more than disgrace; but the brave 
man is not that sort of person. 

(3) Passion also is sometimes reckoned as courage; those who act 
from passion, like wild beasts rushing at those who have wounded them, 
are thought to be brave, because brave men also are passionate; for 
passion above all things is eager to rush on danger, and hence Homer's 
'put strength into his passion' and 'aroused their spirit and 
passion and 'hard he breathed panting' and 'his blood boiled' . For all 
such expressions seem to indicate the stirring and onset of passion. 
Now brave men act for honour's sake, but passion aids them; while wild 



beasts act under the influence of pain; for they attack because they 
have been wounded or because they are afraid, since if they are in a 
forest they do not come near one. Thus they are not brave because, 
driven by pain and passion, they rush on danger without foreseeing any 
of the perils, since at that rate even asses would be brave when 
they are hungry; for blows will not drive them from their food; and 
lust also makes adulterers do many daring things. (Those creatures are 
not brave, then, which are driven on to danger by pain or passion.) 
The 'courage' that is due to passion seems to be the most natural, and 
to be courage if choice and motive be added. 

Men, then, as well as beasts, suffer pain when they are angry, and 
are pleased when they exact their revenge; those who fight for these 
reasons, however, are pugnacious but not brave; for they do not act 
for honour's sake nor as the rule directs, but from strength of 
feeling; they have, however, something akin to courage. 

(4) Nor are sanguine people brave; for they are confident in danger 
only because they have conquered often and against many foes. Yet they 
closely resemble brave men, because both are confident; but brave 

men are confident for the reasons stated earlier, while these are so 
because they think they are the strongest and can suffer nothing. 
(Drunken men also behave in this way; they become sanguine) . When 
their adventures do not succeed, however, they run away; but it was 
the mark of a brave man to face things that are, and seem, terrible 
for a man, because it is noble to do so and disgraceful not to do 
so. Hence also it is thought the mark of a braver man to be fearless 
and undisturbed in sudden alarms than to be so in those that are 
foreseen; for it must have proceeded more from a state of character, 
because less from preparation; acts that are foreseen may be chosen by 
calculation and rule, but sudden actions must be in accordance with 
one's state of character. 

(5) People who are ignorant of the danger also appear brave, and 
they are not far removed from those of a sanguine temper, but are 
inferior inasmuch as they have no self-reliance while these have. 
Hence also the sanguine hold their ground for a time; but those who 
have been deceived about the facts fly if they know or suspect that 
these are different from what they supposed, as happened to the 
Argives when they fell in with the Spartans and took them for 
Sicyonians . 

We have, then, described the character both of brave men and of 
those who are thought to be brave. 

9 

Though courage is concerned with feelings of confidence and of fear, 
it is not concerned with both alike, but more with the things that 
inspire fear; for he who is undisturbed in face of these and bears 
himself as he should towards these is more truly brave than the man 
who does so towards the things that inspire confidence. It is for 
facing what is painful, then, as has been said, that men are called 
brave. Hence also courage involves pain, and is justly praised; for it 
is harder to face what is painful than to abstain from what is 
pleasant . 

Yet the end which courage sets before it would seem to be 
pleasant, but to be concealed by the attending circumstances, as 
happens also in athletic contests; for the end at which boxers aim 
is pleasant- the crown and the honours- but the blows they take are 
distressing to flesh and blood, and painful, and so is their whole 
exertion; and because the blows and the exertions are many the end, 
which is but small, appears to have nothing pleasant in it. And so, if 
the case of courage is similar, death and wounds will be painful to 
the brave man and against his will, but he will face them because it 
is noble to do so or because it is base not to do so. And the more 
he is possessed of virtue in its entirety and the happier he is, the 
more he will be pained at the thought of death; for life is best worth 
living for such a man, and he is knowingly losing the greatest 



goods, and this is painful. But he is none the less brave, and perhaps 
all the more so, because he chooses noble deeds of war at that cost. 
It is not the case, then, with all the virtues that the exercise of 
them is pleasant, except in so far as it reaches its end. But it is 
quite possible that the best soldiers may be not men of this sort 
but those who are less brave but have no other good; for these are 
ready to face danger, and they sell their life for trifling gains. 

So much, then, for courage; it is not difficult to grasp its 
nature in outline, at any rate, from what has been said. 

10 

After courage let us speak of temperance; for these seem to be the 
virtues of the irrational parts. We have said that temperance is a 
mean with regard to pleasures (for it is less, and not in the same 
way, concerned with pains); self-indulgence also is manifested in 
the same sphere. Now, therefore, let us determine with what sort of 
pleasures they are concerned. We may assume the distinction between 
bodily pleasures and those of the soul, such as love of honour and 
love of learning; for the lover of each of these delights in that of 
which he is a lover, the body being in no way affected, but rather the 
mind; but men who are concerned with such pleasures are called neither 
temperate nor self-indulgent. Nor, again, are those who are 
concerned with the other pleasures that are not bodily; for those 
who are fond of hearing and telling stories and who spend their days 
on anything that turns up are called gossips, but not 
self-indulgent, nor are those who are pained at the loss of money or 
of friends . 

Temperance must be concerned with bodily pleasures, but not all even 
of these; for those who delight in objects of vision, such as 
colours and shapes and painting, are called neither temperate nor 
self-indulgent; yet it would seem possible to delight even in these 
either as one should or to excess or to a deficient degree. 

And so too is it with objects of hearing; no one calls those who 
delight extravagantly in music or acting self-indulgent, nor those who 
do so as they ought temperate. 

Nor do we apply these names to those who delight in odour, unless it 
be incidentally; we do not call those self-indulgent who delight in 
the odour of apples or roses or incense, but rather those who 
delight in the odour of unguents or of dainty dishes; for 
self-indulgent people delight in these because these remind them of 
the objects of their appetite. And one may see even other people, when 
they are hungry, delighting in the smell of food; but to delight in 
this kind of thing is the mark of the self-indulgent man; for these 
are objects of appetite to him. 

Nor is there in animals other than man any pleasure connected with 
these senses, except incidentally. For dogs do not delight in the 
scent of hares, but in the eating of them, but the scent told them the 
hares were there; nor does the lion delight in the lowing of the ox, 
but in eating it; but he perceived by the lowing that it was near, and 
therefore appears to delight in the lowing; and similarly he does 
not delight because he sees 'a stag or a wild goat', but because he is 
going to make a meal of it. Temperance and self-indulgence, however, 
are concerned with the kind of pleasures that the other animals 
share in, which therefore appear slavish and brutish; these are 
touch and taste. But even of taste they appear to make little or no 
use; for the business of taste is the discriminating of flavours, 
which is done by winetasters and people who season dishes; but they 
hardly take pleasure in making these discriminations, or at least 
self-indulgent people do not, but in the actual enjoyment, which in 
all cases comes through touch, both in the case of food and in that of 
drink and in that of sexual intercourse. This is why a certain 
gourmand prayed that his throat might become longer than a crane's, 
implying that it was the contact that he took pleasure in. Thus the 
sense with which self-indulgence is connected is the most widely 



shared of the senses; and self-indulgence would seem to be justly a 
matter of reproach, because it attaches to us not as men but as 
animals. To delight in such things, then, and to love them above all 
others, is brutish. For even of the pleasures of touch the most 
liberal have been eliminated, e.g. those produced in the gymnasium 
by rubbing and by the consequent heat; for the contact 
characteristic of the self-indulgent man does not affect the whole 
body but only certain parts . 

11 

Of the appetites some seem to be common, others to be peculiar to 
individuals and acquired; e.g. the appetite for food is natural, since 
every one who is without it craves for food or drink, and sometimes 
for both, and for love also (as Homer says) if he is young and 
lusty; but not every one craves for this or that kind of nourishment 
or love, nor for the same things. Hence such craving appears to be our 
very own. Yet it has of course something natural about it; for 
different things are pleasant to different kinds of people, and 
some things are more pleasant to every one than chance objects. Now in 
the natural appetites few go wrong, and only in one direction, that of 
excess; for to eat or drink whatever offers itself till one is 
surfeited is to exceed the natural amount, since natural appetite is 
the replenishment of one's deficiency. Hence these people are called 
belly-gods, this implying that they fill their belly beyond what is 
right. It is people of entirely slavish character that become like 
this. But with regard to the pleasures peculiar to individuals many 
people go wrong and in many ways. For while the people who are 'fond 
of so and so' are so called because they delight either in the wrong 
things, or more than most people do, or in the wrong way, the 
self-indulgent exceed in all three ways; they both delight in some 
things that they ought not to delight in (since they are hateful), and 
if one ought to delight in some of the things they delight in, they do 
so more than one ought and than most men do. 

Plainly, then, excess with regard to pleasures is self-indulgence 
and is culpable; with regard to pains one is not, as in the case of 
courage, called temperate for facing them or self-indulgent for not 
doing so, but the self indulgent man is so called because he is 
pained more than he ought at not getting pleasant things (even his 
pain being caused by pleasure) , and the temperate man is so called 
because he is not pained at the absence of what is pleasant and at his 
abstinence from it. 

The self-indulgent man, then, craves for all pleasant things or 
those that are most pleasant, and is led by his appetite to choose 
these at the cost of everything else; hence he is pained both when 
he fails to get them and when he is merely craving for them (for 
appetite involves pain) ; but it seems absurd to be pained for the sake 
of pleasure. People who fall short with regard to pleasures and 
delight in them less than they should are hardly found; for such 
insensibility is not human. Even the other animals distinguish 
different kinds of food and enjoy some and not others; and if there is 
any one who finds nothing pleasant and nothing more attractive than 
anything else, he must be something quite different from a man; this 
sort of person has not received a name because he hardly occurs. The 
temperate man occupies a middle position with regard to these objects. 
For he neither enjoys the things that the self-indulgent man enjoys 
most-but rather dislikes them-nor in general the things that he should 
not, nor anything of this sort to excess, nor does he feel pain or 
craving when they are absent, or does so only to a moderate degree, 
and not more than he should, nor when he should not, and so on; but 
the things that, being pleasant, make for health or for good 
condition, he will desire moderately and as he should, and also 
other pleasant things if they are not hindrances to these ends, or 
contrary to what is noble, or beyond his means. For he who neglects 
these conditions loves such pleasures more than they are worth, but 



the temperate man is not that sort of person, but the sort of person 
that the right rule prescribes. 

12 

Self-indulgence is more like a voluntary state than cowardice. For 
the former is actuated by pleasure, the latter by pain, of which the 
one is to be chosen and the other to be avoided; and pain upsets and 
destroys the nature of the person who feels it, while pleasure does 
nothing of the sort. Therefore self-indulgence is more voluntary. 
Hence also it is more a matter of reproach; for it is easier to become 
accustomed to its objects, since there are many things of this sort in 
life, and the process of habituation to them is free from danger, 
while with terrible objects the reverse is the case. But cowardice 
would seem to be voluntary in a different degree from its particular 
manifestations; for it is itself painless, but in these we are upset 
by pain, so that we even throw down our arms and disgrace ourselves in 
other ways; hence our acts are even thought to be done under 
compulsion. For the self-indulgent man, on the other hand, the 
particular acts are voluntary (for he does them with craving and 
desire), but the whole state is less so; for no one craves to be 
self-indulgent . 

The name self-indulgence is applied also to childish faults; for 
they bear a certain resemblance to what we have been considering. 
Which is called after which, makes no difference to our present 
purpose; plainly, however, the later is called after the earlier. 
The transference of the name seems not a bad one; for that which 
desires what is base and which develops quickly ought to be kept in 
a chastened condition, and these characteristics belong above all to 
appetite and to the child, since children in fact live at the beck and 
call of appetite, and it is in them that the desire for what is 
pleasant is strongest. If, then, it is not going to be obedient and 
subject to the ruling principle, it will go to great lengths; for in 
an irrational being the desire for pleasure is insatiable even if it 
tries every source of gratification, and the exercise of appetite 
increases its innate force, and if appetites are strong and violent 
they even expel the power of calculation. Hence they should be 
moderate and few, and should in no way oppose the rational 
principle-and this is what we call an obedient and chastened state-and 
as the child should live according to the direction of his tutor, so 
the appetitive element should live according to rational principle. 
Hence the appetitive element in a temperate man should harmonize 
with the rational principle; for the noble is the mark at which both 
aim, and the temperate man craves for the things be ought, as he 
ought, as when he ought; and when he ought; and this is what 
rational principle directs. 

Here we conclude our account of temperance. 

BOOK IV 
1 

LET us speak next of liberality. It seems to be the mean with regard 
to wealth; for the liberal man is praised not in respect of military 
matters, nor of those in respect of which the temrate man is 
praised, nor of judicial decisions, but with regard to the giving 
and taking of wealth, and especially in respect of giving. Now by 
'wealth' we mean all the things whose value is measured by money. 
Further, prodigality and meanness are excesses and defects with regard 
to wealth; and meanness we always impute to those who care more than 
they ought for wealth, but we sometimes apply the word 'prodigality' 
in a complex sense; for we call those men prodigals who are 
incontinent and spend money on self-indulgence. Hence also they are 
thought the poorest characters; for they combine more vices than 
one. Therefore the application of the word to them is not its proper 
use; for a 'prodigal' means a man who has a single evil quality, 
that of wasting his substance; since a prodigal is one who is being 



ruined by his own fault, and the wasting of substance is thought to be 
a sort of ruining of oneself, life being held to depend on 
possession of substance. 

This, then, is the sense in which we take the word 'prodigality' . 
Now the things that have a use may be used either well or badly; and 
riches is a useful thing; and everything is used best by the man who 
has the virtue concerned with it; riches, therefore, will be used best 
by the man who has the virtue concerned with wealth; and this is the 
liberal man. Now spending and giving seem to be the using of wealth; 
taking and keeping rather the possession of it. Hence it is more the 
mark of the liberal man to give to the right people than to take 
from the right sources and not to take from the wrong. For it is 
more characteristic of virtue to do good than to have good done to 
one, and more characteristic to do what is noble than not to do what 
is base; and it is not hard to see that giving implies doing good 
and doing what is noble, and taking implies having good done to one or 
not acting basely. And gratitude is felt towards him who gives, not 
towards him who does not take, and praise also is bestowed more on 
him. It is easier, also, not to take than to give; for men are apter 
to give away their own too little than to take what is another's. 
Givers, too, are called liberal; but those who do not take are not 
praised for liberality but rather for justice; while those who take 
are hardly praised at all. And the liberal are almost the most loved 
of all virtuous characters, since they are useful; and this depends on 
their giving. 

Now virtuous actions are noble and done for the sake of the noble. 
Therefore the liberal man, like other virtuous men, will give for 
the sake of the noble, and rightly; for he will give to the right 
people, the right amounts, and at the right time, with all the other 
qualifications that accompany right giving; and that too with pleasure 
or without pain; for that which is virtuous is pleasant or free from 
pain-least of all will it be painful. But he who gives to the wrong 
people or not for the sake of the noble but for some other cause, will 
be called not liberal but by some other name. Nor is he liberal who 
gives with pain; for he would prefer the wealth to the noble act, 
and this is not characteristic of a liberal man. But no more will 
the liberal man take from wrong sources; for such taking is not 
characteristic of the man who sets no store by wealth. Nor will he 
be a ready asker; for it is not characteristic of a man who confers 
benefits to accept them lightly. But he will take from the right 
sources, e.g. from his own possessions, not as something noble but 
as a necessity, that he may have something to give. Nor will he 
neglect his own property, since he wishes by means of this to help 
others. And he will refrain from giving to anybody and everybody, that 
he may have something to give to the right people, at the right 
time, and where it is noble to do so. It is highly characteristic of a 
liberal man also to go to excess in giving, so that he leaves too 
little for himself; for it is the nature of a liberal man not to 
look to himself. The term 'liberality' is used relatively to a man's 
substance; for liberality resides not in the multitude of the gifts 
but in the state of character of the giver, and this is relative to 
the giver's substance. There is therefore nothing to prevent the man 
who gives less from being the more liberal man, if he has less to give 
those are thought to be more liberal who have not made their wealth 
but inherited it; for in the first place they have no experience of 
want, and secondly all men are fonder of their own productions, as are 
parents and poets. It is not easy for the liberal man to be rich, 
since he is not apt either at taking or at keeping, but at giving 
away, and does not value wealth for its own sake but as a means to 
giving. Hence comes the charge that is brought against fortune, that 
those who deserve riches most get it least. But it is not unreasonable 
that it should turn out so; for he cannot have wealth, any more than 
anything else, if he does not take pains to have it. Yet he will not 
give to the wrong people nor at the wrong time, and so on; for he 



would no longer be acting in accordance with liberality, and if he 
spent on these objects he would have nothing to spend on the right 
objects. For, as has been said, he is liberal who spends according 
to his substance and on the right objects; and he who exceeds is 
prodigal. Hence we do not call despots prodigal; for it is thought not 
easy for them to give and spend beyond the amount of their 
possessions. Liberality, then, being a mean with regard to giving 
and taking of wealth, the liberal man will both give and spend the 
right amounts and on the right objects, alike in small things and in 
great, and that with pleasure; he will also take the right amounts and 
from the right sources. For, the virtue being a mean with regard to 
both, he will do both as he ought; since this sort of taking 
accompanies proper giving, and that which is not of this sort is 
contrary to it, and accordingly the giving and taking that accompany 
each other are present together in the same man, while the contrary 
kinds evidently are not. But if he happens to spend in a manner 
contrary to what is right and noble, he will be pained, but moderately 
and as he ought; for it is the mark of virtue both to be pleased and 
to be pained at the right objects and in the right way. Further, the 
liberal man is easy to deal with in money matters; for he can be got 
the better of, since he sets no store by money, and is more annoyed if 
he has not spent something that he ought than pained if he has spent 
something that he ought not, and does not agree with the saying of 
Simonides . 

The prodigal errs in these respects also; for he is neither 
pleased nor pained at the right things or in the right way; this 
will be more evident as we go on. We have said that prodigality and 
meanness are excesses and deficiencies, and in two things, in giving 
and in taking; for we include spending under giving. Now prodigality 
exceeds in giving and not taking, while meanness falls short in 
giving, and exceeds in taking, except in small things. 

The characteristics of prodigality are not often combined; for it is 
not easy to give to all if you take from none; private persons soon 
exhaust their substance with giving, and it is to these that the 
name of prodigals is applied- though a man of this sort would seem to 
be in no small degree better than a mean man. For he is easily cured 
both by age and by poverty, and thus he may move towards the middle 
state. For he has the characteristics of the liberal man, since he 
both gives and refrains from taking, though he does neither of these 
in the right manner or well. Therefore if he were brought to do so 
by habituation or in some other way, he would be liberal; for he 
will then give to the right people, and will not take from the wrong 
sources. This is why he is thought to have not a bad character; it 
is not the mark of a wicked or ignoble man to go to excess in giving 
and not taking, but only of a foolish one. The man who is prodigal 
in this way is thought much better than the mean man both for the 
aforesaid reasons and because he benefits many while the other 
benefits no one, not even himself. 

But most prodigal people, as has been said, also take from the wrong 
sources, and are in this respect mean. They become apt to take because 
they wish to spend and cannot do this easily; for their possessions 
soon run short. Thus they are forced to provide means from some 
other source. At the same time, because they care nothing for 
honour, they take recklessly and from any source; for they have an 
appetite for giving, and they do not mind how or from what source. 
Hence also their giving is not liberal; for it is not noble, nor 
does it aim at nobility, nor is it done in the right way; sometimes 
they make rich those who should be poor, and will give nothing to 
people of respectable character, and much to flatterers or those who 
provide them with some other pleasure. Hence also most of them are 
self-indulgent; for they spend lightly and waste money on their 
indulgences, and incline towards pleasures because they do not live 
with a view to what is noble. 

The prodigal man, then, turns into what we have described if he is 



left untutored, but if he is treated with care he will arrive at the 
intermediate and right state. But meanness is both incurable (for 
old age and every disability is thought to make men mean) and more 
innate in men than prodigality; for most men are fonder of getting 
money than of giving. It also extends widely, and is multiform, 
since there seem to be many kinds of meanness. 

For it consists in two things, deficiency in giving and excess in 
taking, and is not found complete in all men but is sometimes divided; 
some men go to excess in taking, others fall short in giving. Those 
who are called by such names as 'miserly', 'close', 'stingy', all fall 
short in giving, but do not covet the possessions of others nor wish 
to get them. In some this is due to a sort of honesty and avoidance of 
what is disgraceful (for some seem, or at least profess, to hoard 
their money for this reason, that they may not some day be forced to 
do something disgraceful; to this class belong the cheeseparer and 
every one of the sort; he is so called from his excess of 
unwillingness to give anything) ; while others again keep their hands 
off the property of others from fear, on the ground that it is not 
easy, if one takes the property of others oneself, to avoid having 
one's own taken by them; they are therefore content neither to take 
nor to give. 

Others again exceed in respect of taking by taking anything and from 
any source, e.g. those who ply sordid trades, pimps and all such 
people, and those who lend small sums and at high rates. For all of 
these take more than they ought and from wrong sources. What is common 
to them is evidently sordid love of gain; they all put up with a bad 
name for the sake of gain, and little gain at that. For those who make 
great gains but from wrong sources, and not the right gains, e.g. 
despots when they sack cities and spoil temples, we do not call mean 
but rather wicked, impious, and unjust. But the gamester and the 
footpad (and the highwayman) belong to the class of the mean, since 
they have a sordid love of gain. For it is for gain that both of 
them ply their craft and endure the disgrace of it, and the one 
faces the greatest dangers for the sake of the booty, while the 
other makes gain from his friends, to whom he ought to be giving. 
Both, then, since they are willing to make gain from wrong sources, 
are sordid lovers of gain; therefore all such forms of taking are 
mean . 

And it is natural that meanness is described as the contrary of 
liberality; for not only is it a greater evil than prodigality, but 
men err more often in this direction than in the way of prodigality as 
we have described it. 

So much, then, for liberality and the opposed vices. 



It would seem proper to discuss magnificence next. For this also 
seems to be a virtue concerned with wealth; but it does not like 
liberality extend to all the actions that are concerned with wealth, 
but only to those that involve expenditure; and in these it 
surpasses liberality in scale. For, as the name itself suggests, it is 
a fitting expenditure involving largeness of scale. But the scale is 
relative; for the expense of equipping a trireme is not the same as 
that of heading a sacred embassy. It is what is fitting, then, in 
relation to the agent, and to the circumstances and the object. The 
man who in small or middling things spends according to the merits 
of the case is not called magnificent (e.g. the man who can say 
'many a gift I gave the wanderer'), but only the man who does so in 
great things. For the magnificent man is liberal, but the liberal 
man is not necessarily magnificent. The deficiency of this state of 
character is called niggardliness, the excess vulgarity, lack of 
taste, and the like, which do not go to excess in the amount spent 
on right objects, but by showy expenditure in the wrong 
circumstances and the wrong manner; we shall speak of these vices 



later . 

The magnificent man is like an artist; for he can see what is 
fitting and spend large sums tastefully. For, as we said at the 
begining, a state of character is determined by its activities and 
by its objects. Now the expenses of the magnificent man are large 
and fitting. Such, therefore, are also his results; for thus there 
will be a great expenditure and one that is fitting to its result. 
Therefore the result should be worthy of the expense, and the 
expense should be worthy of the result, or should even exceed it. 
And the magnificent man will spend such sums for honour's sake; for 
this is common to the virtues. And further he will do so gladly and 
lavishly; for nice calculation is a niggardly thing. And he will 
consider how the result can be made most beautiful and most becoming 
rather than for how much it can be produced and how it can be produced 
most cheaply. It is necessary, then, that the magnificent man be 
also liberal. For the liberal man also will spend what he ought and as 
he ought; and it is in these matters that the greatness implied in the 
name of the magnificent man-his bigness, as it were-is manifested, 
since liberality is concerned with these matters; and at an equal 
expense he will produce a more magnificent work of art. For a 
possession and a work of art have not the same excellence. The most 
valuable possession is that which is worth most, e.g. gold, but the 
most valuable work of art is that which is great and beautiful (for 
the contemplation of such a work inspires admiration, and so does 
magnificence); and a work has an excellence-viz . magnif icence-which 
involves magnitude. Magnificence is an attribute of expenditures of 
the kind which we call honourable, e.g. those connected with the 
gods-votive offerings, buildings, and sacrif ices-and similarly with 
any form of religious worship, and all those that are proper objects 
of public-spirited ambition, as when people think they ought to 
equip a chorus or a trireme, or entertain the city, in a brilliant 
way. But in all cases, as has been said, we have regard to the agent 
as well and ask who he is and what means he has; for the expenditure 
should be worthy of his means, and suit not only the result but also 
the producer. Hence a poor man cannot be magnificent, since he has not 
the means with which to spend large sums fittingly; and he who tries 
is a fool, since he spends beyond what can be expected of him and what 
is proper, but it is right expenditure that is virtuous. But great 
expenditure is becoming to those who have suitable means to start 
with, acquired by their own efforts or from ancestors or connexions, 
and to people of high birth or reputation, and so on; for all these 
things bring with them greatness and prestige. Primarily, then, the 
magnificent man is of this sort, and magnificence is shown in 
expenditures of this sort, as has been said; for these are the 
greatest and most honourable. Of private occasions of expenditure 
the most suitable are those that take place once for all, e.g. a 
wedding or anything of the kind, or anything that interests the 
whole city or the people of position in it, and also the receiving 
of foreign guests and the sending of them on their way, and gifts 
and counter-gifts; for the magnificent man spends not on himself but 
on public objects, and gifts bear some resemblance to votive 
offerings. A magnificent man will also furnish his house suitably to 
his wealth (for even a house is a sort of public ornament), and will 
spend by preference on those works that are lasting (for these are the 
most beautiful), and on every class of things he will spend what is 
becoming; for the same things are not suitable for gods and for men, 
nor in a temple and in a tomb. And since each expenditure may be great 
of its kind, and what is most magnificent absolutely is great 
expenditure on a great object, but what is magnificent here is what is 
great in these circumstances, and greatness in the work differs from 
greatness in the expense (for the most beautiful ball or bottle is 
magnificent as a gift to a child, but the price of it is small and 
mean) , -therefore it is characteristic of the magnificent man, whatever 
kind of result he is producing, to produce it magnificently (for 



such a result is not easily surpassed) and to make it worthy of the 
expenditure . 

Such, then, is the magnificent man; the man who goes to excess and 
is vulgar exceeds, as has been said, by spending beyond what is right. 
For on small objects of expenditure he spends much and displays a 
tasteless showiness; e.g. he gives a club dinner on the scale of a 
wedding banquet, and when he provides the chorus for a comedy he 
brings them on to the stage in purple, as they do at Megara. And all 
such things he will do not for honour's sake but to show off his 
wealth, and because he thinks he is admired for these things, and 
where he ought to spend much he spends little and where little, 
much. The niggardly man on the other hand will fall short in 
everything, and after spending the greatest sums will spoil the beauty 
of the result for a trifle, and whatever he is doing he will 
hesitate and consider how he may spend least, and lament even that, 
and think he is doing everything on a bigger scale than he ought. 

These states of character, then, are vices; yet they do not bring 
disgrace because they are neither harmful to one's neighbour nor 
very unseemly. 

3 

Pride seems even from its name to be concerned with great things; 
what sort of great things, is the first question we must try to 
answer. It makes no difference whether we consider the state of 
character or the man characterized by it. Now the man is thought to be 
proud who thinks himself worthy of great things, being worthy of them; 
for he who does so beyond his deserts is a fool, but no virtuous man 
is foolish or silly. The proud man, then, is the man we have 
described. For he who is worthy of little and thinks himself worthy of 
little is temperate, but not proud; for pride implies greatness, as 
beauty implies a goodsized body, and little people may be neat and 
well-proportioned but cannot be beautiful. On the other hand, he who 
thinks himself worthy of great things, being unworthy of them, is 
vain; though not every one who thinks himself worthy of more than he 
really is worthy of in vain. The man who thinks himself worthy of 
worthy of less than he is really worthy of is unduly humble, whether 
his deserts be great or moderate, or his deserts be small but his 
claims yet smaller. And the man whose deserts are great would seem 
most unduly humble; for what would he have done if they had been less? 
The proud man, then, is an extreme in respect of the greatness of 
his claims, but a mean in respect of the rightness of them; for he 
claims what is accordance with his merits, while the others go to 
excess or fall short. 

If, then, he deserves and claims great things, and above all the 
great things, he will be concerned with one thing in particular. 
Desert is relative to external goods; and the greatest of these, we 
should say, is that which we render to the gods, and which people of 
position most aim at, and which is the prize appointed for the noblest 
deeds; and this is honour; that is surely the greatest of external 
goods. Honours and dishonours, therefore, are the objects with respect 
to which the proud man is as he should be. And even apart from 
argument it is with honour that proud men appear to be concerned; 
for it is honour that they chiefly claim, but in accordance with their 
deserts. The unduly humble man falls short both in comparison with his 
own merits and in comparison with the proud man's claims. The vain man 
goes to excess in comparison with his own merits, but does not 
exceed the proud man's claims. 

Now the proud man, since he deserves most, must be good in the 
highest degree; for the better man always deserves more, and the 
best man most. Therefore the truly proud man must be good. And 
greatness in every virtue would seem to be characteristic of a proud 
man. And it would be most unbecoming for a proud man to fly from 
danger, swinging his arms by his sides, or to wrong another; for to 
what end should he do disgraceful acts, he to whom nothing is great? 



If we consider him point by point we shall see the utter absurdity 
of a proud man who is not good. Nor, again, would he be worthy of 
honour if he were bad; for honour is the prize of virtue, and it is to 
the good that it is rendered. Pride, then, seems to be a sort of crown 
of the virtues; for it makes them greater, and it is not found without 
them. Therefore it is hard to be truly proud; for it is impossible 
without nobility and goodness of character. It is chiefly with honours 
and dishonours, then, that the proud man is concerned; and at 
honours that are great and conferred by good men he will be moderately 
Pleased, thinking that he is coming by his own or even less than his 
own; for there can be no honour that is worthy of perfect virtue, 
yet he will at any rate accept it since they have nothing greater to 
bestow on him; but honour from casual people and on trifling grounds 
he will utterly despise, since it is not this that he deserves, and 
dishonour too, since in his case it cannot be just. In the first 
place, then, as has been said, the proud man is concerned with 
honours; yet he will also bear himself with moderation towards 
wealth and power and all good or evil fortune, whatever may befall 
him, and will be neither over-joyed by good fortune nor over-pained by 
evil. For not even towards honour does he bear himself as if it were a 
very great thing. Power and wealth are desirable for the sake of 
honour (at least those who have them wish to get honour by means of 
them) ; and for him to whom even honour is a little thing the others 
must be so too. Hence proud men are thought to be disdainful. 

The goods of fortune also are thought to contribute towards pride. 
For men who are well-born are thought worthy of honour, and so are 
those who enjoy power or wealth; for they are in a superior 
position, and everything that has a superiority in something good is 
held in greater honour. Hence even such things make men prouder; for 
they are honoured by some for having them; but in truth the good man 
alone is to be honoured; he, however, who has both advantages is 
thought the more worthy of honour. But those who without virtue have 
such goods are neither justified in making great claims nor entitled 
to the name of 'proud'; for these things imply perfect virtue. 
Disdainful and insolent, however, even those who have such goods 
become. For without virtue it is not easy to bear gracefully the goods 
of fortune; and, being unable to bear them, and thinking themselves 
superior to others, they despise others and themselves do what they 
please. They imitate the proud man without being like him, and this 
they do where they can; so they do not act virtuously, but they do 
despise others. For the proud man despises justly (since he thinks 
truly) , but the many do so at random. 

He does not run into trifling dangers, nor is he fond of danger, 
because he honours few things; but he will face great dangers, and 
when he is in danger he is unsparing of his life, knowing that there 
are conditions on which life is not worth having. And he is the sort 
of man to confer benefits, but he is ashamed of receiving them; for 
the one is the mark of a superior, the other of an inferior. And he is 
apt to confer greater benefits in return; for thus the original 
benefactor besides being paid will incur a debt to him, and will be 
the gainer by the transaction. They seem also to remember any 
service they have done, but not those they have received (for he who 
receives a service is inferior to him who has done it, but the proud 
man wishes to be superior) , and to hear of the former with pleasure, 
of the latter with displeasure; this, it seems, is why Thetis did 
not mention to Zeus the services she had done him, and why the 
Spartans did not recount their services to the Athenians, but those 
they had received. It is a mark of the proud man also to ask for 
nothing or scarcely anything, but to give help readily, and to be 
dignified towards people who enjoy high position and good fortune, but 
unassuming towards those of the middle class; for it is a difficult 
and lofty thing to be superior to the former, but easy to be so to the 
latter, and a lofty bearing over the former is no mark of 
ill-breeding, but among humble people it is as vulgar as a display 



of strength against the weak. Again, it is characteristic of the proud 
man not to aim at the things commonly held in honour, or the things in 
which others excel; to be sluggish and to hold back except where great 
honour or a great work is at stake, and to be a man of few deeds, 
but of great and notable ones. He must also be open in his hate and in 
his love (for to conceal one's feelings, i.e. to care less for truth 
than for what people will think, is a coward's part), and must speak 
and act openly; for he is free of speech because he is contemptuous, 
and he is given to telling the truth, except when he speaks in irony 
to the vulgar. He must be unable to make his life revolve round 
another, unless it be a friend; for this is slavish, and for this 
reason all flatterers are servile and people lacking in self-respect 
are flatterers. Nor is he given to admiration; for nothing to him is 
great. Nor is he mindful of wrongs; for it is not the part of a 
proud man to have a long memory, especially for wrongs, but rather 
to overlook them. Nor is he a gossip; for he will speak neither 
about himself nor about another, since he cares not to be praised 
nor for others to be blamed; nor again is he given to praise; and 
for the same reason he is not an evil-speaker, even about his enemies, 
except from haughtiness. With regard to necessary or small matters 
he is least of all me given to lamentation or the asking of favours; 
for it is the part of one who takes such matters seriously to behave 
so with respect to them. He is one who will possess beautiful and 
profitless things rather than profitable and useful ones; for this 
is more proper to a character that suffices to itself. 

Further, a slow step is thought proper to the proud man, a deep 
voice, and a level utterance; for the man who takes few things 
seriously is not likely to be hurried, nor the man who thinks 
nothing great to be excited, while a shrill voice and a rapid gait are 
the results of hurry and excitement. 

Such, then, is the proud man; the man who falls short of him is 
unduly humble, and the man who goes beyond him is vain. Now even these 
are not thought to be bad (for they are not malicious), but only 
mistaken. For the unduly humble man, being worthy of good things, robs 
himself of what he deserves, and to have something bad about him 
from the fact that he does not think himself worthy of good things, 
and seems also not to know himself; else he would have desired the 
things he was worthy of, since these were good. Yet such people are 
not thought to be fools, but rather unduly retiring. Such a 
reputation, however, seems actually to make them worse; for each class 
of people aims at what corresponds to its worth, and these people 
stand back even from noble actions and undertakings, deeming 
themselves unworthy, and from external goods no less. Vain people, 
on the other hand, are fools and ignorant of themselves, and that 
manifestly; for, not being worthy of them, they attempt honourable 
undertakings, and then are found out; and tetadorn themselves with 
clothing and outward show and such things, and wish their strokes of 
good fortune to be made public, and speak about them as if they 
would be honoured for them. But undue humility is more opposed to 
pride than vanity is; for it is both commoner and worse. 

Pride, then, is concerned with honour on the grand scale, as has 
been said. 

4 

There seems to be in the sphere of honour also, as was said in our 
first remarks on the subject, a virtue which would appear to be 
related to pride as liberality is to magnificence. For neither of 
these has anything to do with the grand scale, but both dispose us 
as is right with regard to middling and unimportant objects; as in 
getting and giving of wealth there is a mean and an excess and defect, 
so too honour may be desired more than is right, or less, or from 
the right sources and in the right way. We blame both the ambitious 
man as am at honour more than is right and from wrong sources, and the 
unambitious man as not willing to be honoured even for noble 



reasons. But sometimes we praise the ambitious man as being manly 
and a lover of what is noble, and the unambitious man as being 
moderate and self-controlled, as we said in our first treatment of the 
subject. Evidently, since 'fond of such and such an object' has more 
than one meaning, we do not assign the term 'ambition' or 'love of 
honour' always to the same thing, but when we praise the quality we 
think of the man who loves honour more than most people, and when we 
blame it we think of him who loves it more than is right. The mean 
being without a name, the extremes seem to dispute for its place as 
though that were vacant by default. But where there is excess and 
defect, there is also an intermediate; now men desire honour both more 
than they should and less; therefore it is possible also to do so as 
one should; at all events this is the state of character that is 
praised, being an unnamed mean in respect of honour. Relatively to 
ambition it seems to be unambitiousness, and relatively to 
unambitiousness it seems to be ambition, while relatively to both 
severally it seems in a sense to be both together. This appears to 
be true of the other virtues also. But in this case the extremes 
seem to be contradictories because the mean has not received a name. 

5 

Good temper is a mean with respect to anger; the middle state 
being unnamed, and the extremes almost without a name as well, we 
place good temper in the middle position, though it inclines towards 
the deficiency, which is without a name. The excess might called a 
sort of 'irascibility' . For the passion is anger, while its causes are 
many and diverse. 

The man who is angry at the right things and with the right 
people, and, further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he 
ought, is praised. This will be the good-tempered man, then, since 
good temper is praised. For the good-tempered man tends to be 
unperturbed and not to be led by passion, but to be angry in the 
manner, at the things, and for the length of time, that the rule 
dictates; but he is thought to err rather in the direction of 
deficiency; for the good-tempered man is not revengeful, but rather 
tends to make allowances. 

The deficiency, whether it is a sort of ' inirascibility ' or whatever 
it is, is blamed. For those who are not angry at the things they 
should be angry at are thought to be fools, and so are those who are 
not angry in the right way, at the right time, or with the right 
persons; for such a man is thought not to feel things nor to be pained 
by them, and, since he does not get angry, he is thought unlikely to 
defend himself; and to endure being insulted and put up with insult to 
one's friends is slavish. 

The excess can be manifested in all the points that have been 
named (for one can be angry with the wrong persons, at the wrong 
things, more than is right, too quickly, or too long); yet all are not 
found in the same person. Indeed they could not; for evil destroys 
even itself, and if it is complete becomes unbearable. Now 
hot-tempered people get angry quickly and with the wrong persons and 
at the wrong things and more than is right, but their anger ceases 
quickly-which is the best point about them. This happens to them 
because they do not restrain their anger but retaliate openly owing to 
their quickness of temper, and then their anger ceases. By reason of 
excess choleric people are quick-tempered and ready to be angry with 
everything and on every occasion; whence their name. Sulky people 
are hard to appease, and retain their anger long; for they repress 
their passion. But it ceases when they retaliate; for revenge relieves 
them of their anger, producing in them pleasure instead of pain. If 
this does not happen they retain their burden; for owing to its not 
being obvious no one even reasons with them, and to digest one's anger 
in oneself takes time. Such people are most troublesome to 
themselves and to their dearest friends. We call had-tempered those 
who are angry at the wrong things, more than is right, and longer, and 



cannot be appeased until they inflict vengeance or punishment. 

To good temper we oppose the excess rather than the defect; for 
not only is it commoner since revenge is the more human) , but 
bad-tempered people are worse to live with. 

What we have said in our earlier treatment of the subject is plain 
also from what we are now saying; viz. that it is not easy to define 
how, with whom, at what, and how long one should be angry, and at what 
point right action ceases and wrong begins . For the man who strays a 
little from the path, either towards the more or towards the less, 
is not blamed; since sometimes we praise those who exhibit the 
deficiency, and call them good-tempered, and sometimes we call angry 
people manly, as being capable of ruling. How far, therefore, and 
how a man must stray before he becomes blameworthy, it is not easy 
to state in words; for the decision depends on the particular facts 
and on perception. But so much at least is plain, that the middle 
state is praiseworthy- that in virtue of which we are angry with the 
right people, at the right things, in the right way, and so on, 
while the excesses and defects are blameworthy- slightly so if they 
are present in a low degree, more if in a higher degree, and very 
much if in a high degree. Evidently, then, we must cling to the 
middle state.- Enough of the states relative to anger. 

6 

In gatherings of men, in social life and the interchange of words 
and deeds, some men are thought to be obsequious, viz. those who to 
give pleasure praise everything and never oppose, but think it their 
duty 'to give no pain to the people they meet'; while those who, on 
the contrary, oppose everything and care not a whit about giving 
pain are called churlish and contentious. That the states we have 
named are culpable is plain enough, and that the middle state is 
laudable- that in virtue of which a man will put up with, and will 
resent, the right things and in the right way; but no name has been 
assigned to it, though it most resembles friendship. For the man who 
corresponds to this middle state is very much what, with affection 
added, we call a good friend. But the state in question differs from 
friendship in that it implies no passion or affection for one's 
associates; since it is not by reason of loving or hating that such 
a man takes everything in the right way, but by being a man of a 
certain kind. For he will behave so alike towards those he knows and 
those he does not know, towards intimates and those who are not so, 
except that in each of these cases he will behave as is befitting; for 
it is not proper to have the same care for intimates and for 
strangers, nor again is it the same conditions that make it right to 
give pain to them. Now we have said generally that he will associate 
with people in the right way; but it is by reference to what is 
honourable and expedient that he will aim at not giving pain or at 
contributing pleasure. For he seems to be concerned with the pleasures 
and pains of social life; and wherever it is not honourable, or is 
harmful, for him to contribute pleasure, he will refuse, and will 
choose rather to give pain; also if his acquiescence in another's 
action would bring disgrace, and that in a high degree, or injury, 
on that other, while his opposition brings a little pain, he will 
not acquiesce but will decline. He will associate differently with 
people in high station and with ordinary people, with closer and 
more distant acquaintances, and so too with regard to all other 
differences, rendering to each class what is befitting, and while 
for its own sake he chooses to contribute pleasure, and avoids the 
giving of pain, he will be guided by the consequences, if these are 
greater, i.e. honour and expediency. For the sake of a great future 
pleasure, too, he will inflict small pains. 

The man who attains the mean, then, is such as we have described, 
but has not received a name; of those who contribute pleasure, the man 
who aims at being pleasant with no ulterior object is obsequious, 
but the man who does so in order that he may get some advantage in the 



direction of money or the things that money buys is a flatterer; while 
the man who quarrels with everything is, as has been said, churlish 
and contentious. And the extremes seem to be contradictory to each 
other because the mean is without a name. 

7 

The mean opposed to boastfulness is found in almost the same sphere; 
and this also is without a name. It will be no bad plan to describe 
these states as well; for we shall both know the facts about character 
better if we go through them in detail, and we shall be convinced that 
the virtues are means if we see this to be so in all cases. In the 
field of social life those who make the giving of pleasure or pain 
their object in associating with others have been described; let us 
now describe those who pursue truth or falsehood alike in words and 
deeds and in the claims they put forward. The boastful man, then, is 
thought to be apt to claim the things that bring glory, when he has 
not got them, or to claim more of them than he has, and the 
mock-modest man on the other hand to disclaim what he has or 
belittle it, while the man who observes the mean is one who calls a 
thing by its own name, being truthful both in life and in word, owning 
to what he has, and neither more nor less. Now each of these courses 
may be adopted either with or without an object. But each man speaks 
and acts and lives in accordance with his character, if he is not 
acting for some ulterior object. And falsehood is in itself mean and 
culpable, and truth noble and worthy of praise. Thus the truthful 
man is another case of a man who, being in the mean, is worthy of 
praise, and both forms of untruthful man are culpable, and 
particularly the boastful man. 

Let us discuss them both, but first of all the truthful man. We 
are not speaking of the man who keeps faith in his agreements, i.e. in 
the things that pertain to justice or injustice (for this would belong 
to another virtue) , but the man who in the matters in which nothing of 
this sort is at stake is true both in word and in life because his 
character is such. But such a man would seem to be as a matter of fact 
equitable. For the man who loves truth, and is truthful where 
nothing is at stake, will still more be truthful where something is at 
stake; he will avoid falsehood as something base, seeing that he 
avoided it even for its own sake; and such a man is worthy of 
praise. He inclines rather to understate the truth; for this seems 
in better taste because exaggerations are wearisome. 

He who claims more than he has with no ulterior object is a 
contemptible sort of fellow (otherwise he would not have delighted 
in falsehood) , but seems futile rather than bad; but if he does it for 
an object, he who does it for the sake of reputation or honour is (for 
a boaster) not very much to be blamed, but he who does it for money, 
or the things that lead to money, is an uglier character (it is not 
the capacity that makes the boaster, but the purpose; for it is in 
virtue of his state of character and by being a man of a certain 
kind that he is boaster) ; as one man is a liar because he enjoys the 
lie itself, and another because he desires reputation or gain. Now 
those who boast for the sake of reputation claim such qualities as 
will praise or congratulation, but those whose object is gain claim 
qualities which are of value to one's neighbours and one's lack of 
which is not easily detected, e.g. the powers of a seer, a sage, or 
a physician. For this reason it is such things as these that most 
people claim and boast about; for in them the above-mentioned 
qualities are found. 

Mock-modest people, who understate things, seem more attractive in 
character; for they are thought to speak not for gain but to avoid 
parade; and here too it is qualities which bring reputation that 
they disclaim, as Socrates used to do. Those who disclaim trifling and 
obvious qualities are called humbugs and are more contemptible; and 
sometimes this seems to be boastfulness, like the Spartan dress; for 
both excess and great deficiency are boastful. But those who use 



understatement with moderation and understate about matters that do 
not very much force themselves on our notice seem attractive. And it 
is the boaster that seems to be opposed to the truthful man; for he is 
the worse character. 



Since life includes rest as well as activity, and in this is 
included leisure and amusement, there seems here also to be a kind 
of intercourse which is tasteful; there is such a thing as saying- 
and again listening to- what one should and as one should. The 
kind of people one is speaking or listening to will also make a 
difference. Evidently here also there is both an excess and a 
deficiency as compared with the mean. Those who carry humour to excess 
are thought to be vulgar buffoons, striving after humour at all costs, 
and aiming rather at raising a laugh than at saying what is becoming 
and at avoiding pain to the object of their fun; while those who can 
neither make a joke themselves nor put up with those who do are 
thought to be boorish and unpolished. But those who joke in a tasteful 
way are called ready-witted, which implies a sort of readiness to turn 
this way and that; for such sallies are thought to be movements of the 
character, and as bodies are discriminated by their movements, so 
too are characters. The ridiculous side of things is not far to 
seek, however, and most people delight more than they should in 
amusement and in jestinly. and so even buffoons are called 
ready-witted because they are found attractive; but that they differ 
from the ready-witted man, and to no small extent, is clear from 
what has been said. 

To the middle state belongs also tact; it is the mark of a tactful 
man to say and listen to such things as befit a good and well-bred 
man; for there are some things that it befits such a man to say and to 
hear by way of jest, and the well-bred man's jesting differs from that 
of a vulgar man, and the joking of an educated man from that of an 
uneducated. One may see this even from the old and the new comedies; 
to the authors of the former indecency of language was amusing, to 
those of the latter innuendo is more so; and these differ in no 
small degree in respect of propriety. Now should we define the man who 
jokes well by his saying what is not unbecoming to a well-bred man, or 
by his not giving pain, or even giving delight, to the hearer? Or is 
the latter definition, at any rate, itself indefinite, since different 
things are hateful or pleasant to different people? The kind of 
jokes he will listen to will be the same; for the kind he can put up 
with are also the kind he seems to make. There are, then, jokes he 
will not make; for the jest is a sort of abuse, and there are things 
that lawgivers forbid us to abuse; and they should, perhaps, have 
forbidden us even to make a jest of such. The refined and well-bred 
man, therefore, will be as we have described, being as it were a law 
to himself. 

Such, then, is the man who observes the mean, whether he be called 
tactful or ready-witted. The buffoon, on the other hand, is the slave 
of his sense of humour, and spares neither himself nor others if he 
can raise a laugh, and says things none of which a man of refinement 
would say, and to some of which he would not even listen. The boor, 
again, is useless for such social intercourse; for he contributes 
nothing and finds fault with everything. But relaxation and 
amusement are thought to be a necessary element in life. 

The means in life that have been described, then, are three in 
number, and are all concerned with an interchange of words and deeds 
of some kind. They differ, however, in that one is concerned with 
truth; and the other two with pleasantness. Of those concerned with 
pleasure, one is displayed in jests, the other in the general social 
intercourse of life. 

9 

Shame should not be described as a virtue; for it is more like a 



feeling than a state of character. It is defined, at any rate, as a 
kind of fear of dishonour, and produces an effect similar to that 
produced by fear of danger; for people who feel disgraced blush, and 
those who fear death turn pale. Both, therefore, seem to be in a sense 
bodily conditions, which is thought to be characteristic of feeling 
rather than of a state of character. 

The feeling is not becoming to every age, but only to youth. For 
we think young people should be prone to the feeling of shame 
because they live by feeling and therefore commit many errors, but are 
restrained by shame; and we praise young people who are prone to 
this feeling, but an older person no one would praise for being 
prone to the sense of disgrace, since we think he should not do 
anything that need cause this sense. For the sense of disgrace is 
not even characteristic of a good man, since it is consequent on bad 
actions (for such actions should not be done; and if some actions 
are disgraceful in very truth and others only according to common 
opinion, this makes no difference; for neither class of actions should 
be done, so that no disgrace should be felt) ; and it is a mark of a 
bad man even to be such as to do any disgraceful action. To be so 
constituted as to feel disgraced if one does such an action, and for 
this reason to think oneself good, is absurd; for it is for 
voluntary actions that shame is felt, and the good man will never 
voluntarily do bad actions. But shame may be said to be 
conditionally a good thing; if a good man does such actions, he will 
feel disgraced; but the virtues are not subject to such a 
qualification. And if shamelessness-not to be ashamed of doing base 
actions-is bad, that does not make it good to be ashamed of doing such 
actions. Continence too is not virtue, but a mixed sort of state; this 
will be shown later. Now, however, let us discuss justice. 

BOOK V 
1 

WITH regards to justice and injustice we must (1) consider what kind 
of actions they are concerned with, (2) what sort of mean justice 
is, and (3) between what extremes the just act is intermediate. Our 
investigation shall follow the same course as the preceding 
discussions . 

We see that all men mean by justice that kind of state of 
character which makes people disposed to do what is just and makes 
them act justly and wish for what is just; and similarly by 
injustice that state which makes them act unjustly and wish for what 
is unjust. Let us too, then, lay this down as a general basis. For the 
same is not true of the sciences and the faculties as of states of 
character. A faculty or a science which is one and the same is held to 
relate to contrary objects, but a state of character which is one of 
two contraries does not produce the contrary results; e.g. as a result 
of health we do not do what is the opposite of healthy, but only 
what is healthy; for we say a man walks healthily, when he walks as 
a healthy man would. 

Now often one contrary state is recognized from its contrary, and 
often states are recognized from the subjects that exhibit them; for 
(A) if good condition is known, bad condition also becomes known, 
and (B) good condition is known from the things that are in good 
condition, and they from it. If good condition is firmness of flesh, 
it is necessary both that bad condition should be flabbiness of 
flesh and that the wholesome should be that which causes firmness in 
flesh. And it follows for the most part that if one contrary is 
ambiguous the other also will be ambiguous; e.g. if 'just' is so, that 
'unjust' will be so too. 

Now 'justice' and 'injustice' seem to be ambiguous, but because 
their different meanings approach near to one another the ambiguity 
escapes notice and is not obvious as it is, comparatively, when the 
meanings are far apart, e.g. (for here the difference in outward 
form is great) as the ambiguity in the use of kleis for the 



collar-bone of an animal and for that with which we lock a door. Let 
us take as a starting-point, then, the various meanings of 'an 
unjust man' . Both the lawless man and the grasping and unfair man 
are thought to be unjust, so that evidently both the law-abiding and 
the fair man will be just. The just, then, is the lawful and the fair, 
the unjust the unlawful and the unfair. 

Since the unjust man is grasping, he must be concerned with 
goods-not all goods, but those with which prosperity and adversity 
have to do, which taken absolutely are always good, but for a 
particular person are not always good. Now men pray for and pursue 
these things; but they should not, but should pray that the things 
that are good absolutely may also be good for them, and should 
choose the things that are good for them. The unjust man does not 
always choose the greater, but also the less-in the case of things bad 
absolutely; but because the lesser evil is itself thought to be in a 
sense good, and graspingness is directed at the good, therefore he 
is thought to be grasping. And he is unfair; for this contains and 
is common to both. 

Since the lawless man was seen to be unjust and the law-abiding 
man just, evidently all lawful acts are in a sense just acts; for 
the acts laid down by the legislative art are lawful, and each of 
these, we say, is just. Now the laws in their enactments on all 
subjects aim at the common advantage either of all or of the best or 
of those who hold power, or something of the sort; so that in one 
sense we call those acts just that tend to produce and preserve 
happiness and its components for the political society. And the law 
bids us do both the acts of a brave man (e.g. not to desert our post 
nor take to flight nor throw away our arms), and those of a 
temperate man (e.g. not to commit adultery nor to gratify one's lust), 
and those of a good-tempered man (e.g. not to strike another nor to 
speak evil), and similarly with regard to the other virtues and 
forms of wickedness, commanding some acts and forbidding others; and 
the rightly-framed law does this rightly, and the hastily conceived 
one less well. This form of justice, then, is complete virtue, but not 
absolutely, but in relation to our neighbour. And therefore justice is 
often thought to be the greatest of virtues, and 'neither evening 
nor morning star' is so wonderful; and proverbially 'in justice is 
every virtue comprehended' . And it is complete virtue in its fullest 
sense, because it is the actual exercise of complete virtue. It is 
complete because he who possesses it can exercise his virtue not 
only in himself but towards his neighbour also; for many men can 
exercise virtue in their own affairs, but not in their relations to 
their neighbour. This is why the saying of Bias is thought to be true, 
that 'rule will show the man'; for a ruler is necessarily in 
relation to other men and a member of a society. For this same 
reason justice, alone of the virtues, is thought to be 'another's 
good', because it is related to our neighbour; for it does what is 
advantageous to another, either a ruler or a copartner. Now the 
worst man is he who exercises his wickedness both towards himself 
and towards his friends, and the best man is not he who exercises 
his virtue towards himself but he who exercises it towards another; 
for this is a difficult task. Justice in this sense, then, is not part 
of virtue but virtue entire, nor is the contrary injustice a part of 
vice but vice entire. What the difference is between virtue and 
justice in this sense is plain from what we have said; they are the 
same but their essence is not the same; what, as a relation to one's 
neighbour, is justice is, as a certain kind of state without 
qualification, virtue. 

2 

But at all events what we are investigating is the justice which 
is a part of virtue; for there is a justice of this kind, as we 
maintain. Similarly it is with injustice in the particular sense 
that we are concerned. 



That there is such a thing is indicated by the fact that while the 
man who exhibits in action the other forms of wickedness acts 
wrongly indeed, but not graspingly (e.g. the man who throws away his 
shield through cowardice or speaks harshly through bad temper or fails 
to help a friend with money through meanness), when a man acts 
graspingly he often exhibits none of these vices, -no, nor all 
together, but certainly wickedness of some kind (for we blame him) and 
injustice. There is, then, another kind of injustice which is a part 
of injustice in the wide sense, and a use of the word 'unjust' which 
answers to a part of what is unjust in the wide sense of 'contrary 
to the law' . Again if one man commits adultery for the sake of gain 
and makes money by it, while another does so at the bidding of 
appetite though he loses money and is penalized for it, the latter 
would be held to be self-indulgent rather than grasping, but the 
former is unjust, but not self-indulgent; evidently, therefore, he 
is unjust by reason of his making gain by his act. Again, all other 
unjust acts are ascribed invariably to some particular kind of 
wickedness, e.g. adultery to self-indulgence, the desertion of a 
comrade in battle to cowardice, physical violence to anger; but if a 
man makes gain, his action is ascribed to no form of wickedness but 
injustice. Evidently, therefore, there is apart from injustice in 
the wide sense another, 'particular', injustice which shares the 
name and nature of the first, because its definition falls within 
the same genus; for the significance of both consists in a relation to 
one's neighbour, but the one is concerned with honour or money or 
safety-or that which includes all these, if we had a single name for 
it-and its motive is the pleasure that arises from gain; while the 
other is concerned with all the objects with which the good man is 
concerned . 

It is clear, then, that there is more than one kind of justice, 
and that there is one which is distinct from virtue entire; we must 
try to grasp its genus and differentia. 

The unjust has been divided into the unlawful and the unfair, and 
the just into the lawful and the fair. To the unlawful answers the 
afore-mentioned sense of injustice. But since unfair and the 
unlawful are not the same, but are different as a part is from its 
whole (for all that is unfair is unlawful, but not all that is 
unlawful is unfair), the unjust and injustice in the sense of the 
unfair are not the same as but different from the former kind, as part 
from whole; for injustice in this sense is a part of injustice in 
the wide sense, and similarly justice in the one sense of justice in 
the other. Therefore we must speak also about particular justice and 
particular and similarly about the just and the unjust. The justice, 
then, which answers to the whole of virtue, and the corresponding 
injustice, one being the exercise of virtue as a whole, and the 
other that of vice as a whole, towards one's neighbour, we may leave 
on one side. And how the meanings of 'just' and 'unjust' which 
answer to these are to be distinguished is evident; for practically 
the majority of the acts commanded by the law are those which are 
prescribed from the point of view of virtue taken as a whole; for 
the law bids us practise every virtue and forbids us to practise any 
vice. And the things that tend to produce virtue taken as a whole 
are those of the acts prescribed by the law which have been prescribed 
with a view to education for the common good. But with regard to the 
education of the individual as such, which makes him without 
qualification a good man, we must determine later whether this is 
the function of the political art or of another; for perhaps it is not 
the same to be a good man and a good citizen of any state taken at 
random . 

Of particular justice and that which is just in the corresponding 
sense, (A) one kind is that which is manifested in distributions of 
honour or money or the other things that fall to be divided among 
those who have a share in the constitution (for in these it is 
possible for one man to have a share either unequal or equal to that 



of another) , and (B) one is that which plays a rectifying part in 
transactions between man and man. Of this there are two divisions; 
of transactions (1) some are voluntary and (2) others 

involuntary- voluntary such transactions as sale, purchase, loan for 
consumption, pledging, loan for use, depositing, letting (they are 
called voluntary because the origin of these transactions is 
voluntary) , while of the involuntary (a) some are clandestine, such as 
theft, adultery, poisoning, procuring, enticement of slaves, 
assassination, false witness, and (b) others are violent, such as 
assault, imprisonment, murder, robbery with violence, mutilation, 
abuse, insult. 

3 

(A) We have shown that both the unjust man and the unjust act are 
unfair or unequal; now it is clear that there is also an 
intermediate between the two unequals involved in either case. And 
this is the equal; for in any kind of action in which there's a more 
and a less there is also what is equal. If, then, the unjust is 
unequal, just is equal, as all men suppose it to be, even apart from 
argument. And since the equal is intermediate, the just will be an 
intermediate. Now equality implies at least two things. The just, 
then, must be both intermediate and equal and relative (i.e. for 
certain persons) . And since the equall intermediate it must be between 
certain things (which are respectively greater and less); equal, it 
involves two things; qua just, it is for certain people. The just, 
therefore, involves at least four terms; for the persons for whom it 
is in fact just are two, and the things in which it is manifested, the 
objects distributed, are two. And the same equality will exist between 
the persons and between the things concerned; for as the latter the 
things concerned-are related, so are the former; if they are not 
equal, they will not have what is equal, but this is the origin of 
quarrels and complaints-when either equals have and are awarded 
unequal shares, or unequals equal shares. Further, this is plain 
from the fact that awards should be 'according to merit'; for all 
men agree that what is just in distribution must be according to merit 
in some sense, though they do not all specify the same sort of 
merit, but democrats identify it with the status of freeman, 
supporters of oligarchy with wealth (or with noble birth) , and 
supporters of aristocracy with excellence. 

The just, then, is a species of the proportionate (proportion 
being not a property only of the kind of number which consists of 
abstract units, but of number in general) . For proportion is 
equality of ratios, and involves four terms at least (that discrete 
proportion involves four terms is plain, but so does continuous 
proportion, for it uses one term as two and mentions it twice; e.g. 
'as the line A is to the line B, so is the line B to the line C ' ; 
the line B, then, has been mentioned twice, so that if the line B be 
assumed twice, the proportional terms will be four); and the just, 
too, involves at least four terms, and the ratio between one pair is 
the same as that between the other pair; for there is a similar 
distinction between the persons and between the things. As the term A, 
then, is to B, so will C be to D, and therefore, alternando, as A is 
to C, B will be to D. Therefore also the whole is in the same ratio to 
the whole; and this coupling the distribution effects, and, if the 
terms are so combined, effects justly. The conjunction, then, of the 
term A with C and of B with D is what is just in distribution, and 
this species of the just is intermediate, and the unjust is what 
violates the proportion; for the proportional is intermediate, and the 
just is proportional. (Mathematicians call this kind of proportion 
geometrical; for it is in geometrical proportion that it follows 
that the whole is to the whole as either part is to the 
corresponding part.) This proportion is not continuous; for we 
cannot get a single term standing for a person and a thing. 

This, then, is what the just is-the proportional; the unjust is what 



violates the proportion. Hence one term becomes too great, the other 
too small, as indeed happens in practice; for the man who acts 
unjustly has too much, and the man who is unjustly treated too little, 
of what is good. In the case of evil the reverse is true; for the 
lesser evil is reckoned a good in comparison with the greater evil, 
since the lesser evil is rather to be chosen than the greater, and 
what is worthy of choice is good, and what is worthier of choice a 
greater good. 

This, then, is one species of the just. 

4 

(B) The remaining one is the rectif icatory, which arises in 
connexion with transactions both voluntary and involuntary. This 
form of the just has a different specific character from the former. 
For the justice which distributes common possessions is always in 
accordance with the kind of proportion mentioned above (for in the 
case also in which the distribution is made from the common funds of a 
partnership it will be according to the same ratio which the funds put 
into the business by the partners bear to one another) ; and the 
injustice opposed to this kind of justice is that which violates the 
proportion. But the justice in transactions between man and man is a 
sort of equality indeed, and the injustice a sort of inequality; not 
according to that kind of proportion, however, but according to 
arithmetical proportion. For it makes no difference whether a good man 
has defrauded a bad man or a bad man a good one, nor whether it is a 
good or a bad man that has committed adultery; the law looks only to 
the distinctive character of the injury, and treats the parties as 
equal, if one is in the wrong and the other is being wronged, and if 
one inflicted injury and the other has received it. Therefore, this 
kind of injustice being an inequality, the judge tries to equalize it; 
for in the case also in which one has received and the other has 
inflicted a wound, or one has slain and the other been slain, the 
suffering and the action have been unequally distributed; but the 
judge tries to equalize by means of the penalty, taking away from 
the gain of the assailant. For the term 'gain' is applied generally to 
such cases, even if it be not a term appropriate to certain cases, 
e.g. to the person who inflicts a woundand 'loss' to the sufferer; 
at all events when the suffering has been estimated, the one is called 
loss and the other gain. Therefore the equal is intermediate between 
the greater and the less, but the gain and the loss are respectively 
greater and less in contrary ways; more of the good and less of the 
evil are gain, and the contrary is loss; intermediate between them is, 
as we saw, equal, which we say is just; therefore corrective justice 
will be the intermediate between loss and gain. This is why, when 
people dispute, they take refuge in the judge; and to go to the 
judge is to go to justice; for the nature of the judge is to be a sort 
of animate justice; and they seek the judge as an intermediate, and in 
some states they call judges mediators, on the assumption that if they 
get what is intermediate they will get what is just. The just, then, 
is an intermediate, since the judge is so. Now the judge restores 
equality; it is as though there were a line divided into unequal 
parts, and he took away that by which the greater segment exceeds 
the half, and added it to the smaller segment. And when the whole 
has been equally divided, then they say they have 'their own '-i.e. 
when they have got what is equal. The equal is intermediate between 
the greater and the lesser line according to arithmetical 
proportion. It is for this reason also that it is called just 
(sikaion) , because it is a division into two equal parts (sicha) , just 
as if one were to call it sichaion; and the judge (sikastes) is one 
who bisects (sichastes) . For when something is subtracted from one 
of two equals and added to the other, the other is in excess by 
these two; since if what was taken from the one had not been added 
to the other, the latter would have been in excess by one only. It 
therefore exceeds the intermediate by one, and the intermediate 



exceeds by one that from which something was taken. By this, then, 
we shall recognize both what we must subtract from that which has 
more, and what we must add to that which has less; we must add to 
the latter that by which the intermediate exceeds it, and subtract 
from the greatest that by which it exceeds the intermediate. Let the 
lines AA ' , BB ' , CC ' be equal to one another; from the line AA ' let the 
segment AE have been subtracted, and to the line CC ' let the segment 
CD have been added, so that the whole line DCC ' exceeds the line EA' 
by the segment CD and the segment CF; therefore it exceeds the line 
BB ' by the segment CD. (See diagram.) 

These names, both loss and gain, have come from voluntary 
exchange; for to have more than one's own is called gaining, and to 
have less than one's original share is called losing, e.g. in buying 
and selling and in all other matters in which the law has left 
people free to make their own terms; but when they get neither more 
nor less but just what belongs to themselves, they say that they 
have their own and that they neither lose nor gain. 

Therefore the just is intermediate between a sort of gain and a sort 
of loss, viz. those which are involuntary; it consists in having an 
equal amount before and after the transaction. 

5 

Some think that reciprocity is without qualification just, as the 
Pythagoreans said; for they defined justice without qualification as 
reciprocity. Now 'reciprocity' fits neither distributive nor 
rectif icatory justice-yet people want even the justice of Rhadamanthus 
to mean this : 

Should a man suffer what he did, right justice would be done 

-for in many cases reciprocity and rectif icatory justice are not in 
accord; e.g. (1) if an official has inflicted a wound, he should not 
be wounded in return, and if some one has wounded an official, he 
ought not to be wounded only but punished in addition. Further (2) 
there is a great difference between a voluntary and an involuntary 
act. But in associations for exchange this sort of justice does hold 
men together-reciprocity in accordance with a proportion and not on 
the basis of precisely equal return. For it is by proportionate 
requital that the city holds together. Men seek to return either 
evil for evil-and if they cana not do so, think their position mere 
slavery-or good for good-and if they cannot do so there is no 
exchange, but it is by exchange that they hold together. This is why 
they give a prominent place to the temple of the Graces-to promote the 
requital of services; for this is characteristic of grace-we should 
serve in return one who has shown grace to us, and should another time 
take the initiative in showing it. 

Now proportionate return is secured by cross-conjunction. Let A be a 
builder, B a shoemaker, C a house, D a shoe. The builder, then, must 
get from the shoemaker the latter 's work, and must himself give him in 
return his own. If, then, first there is proportionate equality of 
goods, and then reciprocal action takes place, the result we mention 
will be effected. If not, the bargain is not equal, and does not hold; 
for there is nothing to prevent the work of the one being better 
than that of the other; they must therefore be equated. (And this is 
true of the other arts also; for they would have been destroyed if 
what the patient suffered had not been just what the agent did, and of 
the same amount and kind.) For it is not two doctors that associate 
for exchange, but a doctor and a farmer, or in general people who 
are different and unequal; but these must be equated. This is why 
all things that are exchanged must be somehow comparable. It is for 
this end that money has been introduced, and it becomes in a sense 
an intermediate; for it measures all things, and therefore the 
excess and the defect-how many shoes are equal to a house or to a 
given amount of food. The number of shoes exchanged for a house (or 



for a given amount of food) must therefore correspond to the ratio 
of builder to shoemaker. For if this be not so, there will be no 
exchange and no intercourse. And this proportion will not be 
effected unless the goods are somehow equal. All goods must 
therefore be measured by some one thing, as we said before. Now this 
unit is in truth demand, which holds all things together (for if men 
did not need one another's goods at all, or did not need them equally, 
there would be either no exchange or not the same exchange) ; but money 
has become by convention a sort of representative of demand; and 
this is why it has the name 'money' (nomisma) -because it exists not by 
nature but by law (nomos) and it is in our power to change it and make 
it useless. There will, then, be reciprocity when the terms have 
been equated so that as farmer is to shoemaker, the amount of the 
shoemaker's work is to that of the farmer's work for which it 
exchanges. But we must not bring them into a figure of proportion when 
they have already exchanged (otherwise one extreme will have both 
excesses), but when they still have their own goods. Thus they are 
equals and associates just because this equality can be effected in 
their case. Let A be a farmer, C food, B a shoemaker, D his product 
equated to C . If it had not been possible for reciprocity to be thus 
effected, there would have been no association of the parties. That 
demand holds things together as a single unit is shown by the fact 
that when men do not need one another, i.e. when neither needs the 
other or one does not need the other, they do not exchange, as we do 
when some one wants what one has oneself, e.g. when people permit 
the exportation of corn in exchange for wine. This equation 
therefore must be established. And for the future exchange-that if 
we do not need a thing now we shall have it if ever we do need 
it-money is as it were our surety; for it must be possible for us to 
get what we want by bringing the money. Now the same thing happens 
to money itself as to goods-it is not always worth the same; yet it 
tends to be steadier. This is why all goods must have a price set on 
them; for then there will always be exchange, and if so, association 
of man with man. Money, then, acting as a measure, makes goods 
commensurate and equates them; for neither would there have been 
association if there were not exchange, nor exchange if there were not 
equality, nor equality if there were not commensurability . Now in 
truth it is impossible that things differing so much should become 
commensurate, but with reference to demand they may become so 
sufficiently. There must, then, be a unit, and that fixed by agreement 
(for which reason it is called money); for it is this that makes all 
things commensurate, since all things are measured by money. Let A 
be a house, B ten minae, C a bed. A is half of B, if the house is 
worth five minae or equal to them; the bed, C, is a tenth of B; it 
is plain, then, how many beds are equal to a house, viz. five. That 
exchange took place thus before there was money is plain; for it makes 
no difference whether it is five beds that exchange for a house, or 
the money value of five beds. 

We have now defined the unjust and the just. These having been 
marked off from each other, it is plain that just action is 
intermediate between acting unjustly and being unjustly treated; for 
the one is to have too much and the other to have too little. 
Justice is a kind of mean, but not in the same way as the other 
virtues, but because it relates to an intermediate amount, while 
injustice relates to the extremes. And justice is that in virtue of 
which the just man is said to be a doer, by choice, of that which is 
just, and one who will distribute either between himself and another 
or between two others not so as to give more of what is desirable to 
himself and less to his neighbour (and conversely with what is 
harmful), but so as to give what is equal in accordance with 
proportion; and similarly in distributing between two other persons. 
Injustice on the other hand is similarly related to the unjust, 
which is excess and defect, contrary to proportion, of the useful or 
hurtful. For which reason injustice is excess and defect, viz. because 



it is productive of excess and defect-in one's own case excess of what 
is in its own nature useful and defect of what is hurtful, while in 
the case of others it is as a whole like what it is in one's own case, 
but proportion may be violated in either direction. In the unjust 
act to have too little is to be unjustly treated; to have too much 
is to act unjustly. 

Let this be taken as our account of the nature of justice and 
injustice, and similarly of the just and the unjust in general. 

6 

Since acting unjustly does not necessarily imply being unjust, we 
must ask what sort of unjust acts imply that the doer is unjust with 
respect to each type of injustice, e.g. a thief, an adulterer, or a 
brigand. Surely the answer does not turn on the difference between 
these types. For a man might even lie with a woman knowing who she 
was, but the origin of his might be not deliberate choice but passion. 
He acts unjustly, then, but is not unjust; e.g. a man is not a 
thief, yet he stole, nor an adulterer, yet he committed adultery; 
and similarly in all other cases. 

Now we have previously stated how the reciprocal is related to the 
just; but we must not forget that what we are looking for is not 
only what is just without qualification but also political justice. 
This is found among men who share their life with a view to 
self sufficiency, men who are free and either proportionately or 
arithmetically equal, so that between those who do not fulfil this 
condition there is no political justice but justice in a special sense 
and by analogy. For justice exists only between men whose mutual 
relations are governed by law; and law exists for men between whom 
there is injustice; for legal justice is the discrimination of the 
just and the unjust. And between men between whom there is injustice 
there is also unjust action (though there is not injustice between all 
between whom there is unjust action), and this is assigning too much 
to oneself of things good in themselves and too little of things 
evil in themselves. This is why we do not allow a man to rule, but 
rational principle, because a man behaves thus in his own interests 
and becomes a tyrant. The magistrate on the other hand is the guardian 
of justice, and, if of justice, then of equality also. And since he is 
assumed to have no more than his share, if he is just (for he does not 
assign to himself more of what is good in itself, unless such a 
share is proportional to his merits-so that it is for others that he 
labours, and it is for this reason that men, as we stated 
previously, say that justice is 'another's good'), therefore a 
reward must be given him, and this is honour and privilege; but 
those for whom such things are not enough become tyrants . 

The justice of a master and that of a father are not the same as the 
justice of citizens, though they are like it; for there can be no 
injustice in the unqualified sense towards thing that are one's own, 
but a man's chattel, and his child until it reaches a certain age 
and sets up for itself, are as it were part of himself, and no one 
chooses to hurt himself (for which reason there can be no injustice 
towards oneself) . Therefore the justice or injustice of citizens is 
not manifested in these relations; for it was as we saw according to 
law, and between people naturally subject to law, and these as we saw' 
are people who have an equal share in ruling and being ruled. Hence 
justice can more truly be manifested towards a wife than towards 
children and chattels, for the former is household justice; but even 
this is different from political justice. 

7 

Of political justice part is natural, part legal, natural, that 
which everywhere has the same force and does not exist by people's 
thinking this or that; legal, that which is originally indifferent, 
but when it has been laid down is not indifferent, e.g. that a 
prisoner's ransom shall be a mina, or that a goat and not two sheep 



shall be sacrificed, and again all the laws that are passed for 
particular cases, e.g. that sacrifice shall be made in honour of 
Brasidas, and the provisions of decrees. Now some think that all 
justice is of this sort, because that which is by nature is 
unchangeable and has everywhere the same force (as fire burns both 
here and in Persia) , while they see change in the things recognized as 
just. This, however, is not true in this unqualified way, but is 
true in a sense; or rather, with the gods it is perhaps not true at 
all, while with us there is something that is just even by nature, yet 
all of it is changeable; but still some is by nature, some not by 
nature. It is evident which sort of thing, among things capable of 
being otherwise, is by nature, and which is not but is legal and 
conventional, assuming that both are equally changeable. And in all 
other things the same distinction will apply; by nature the right hand 
is stronger, yet it is possible that all men should come to be 
ambidextrous. The things which are just by virtue of convention and 
expediency are like measures; for wine and corn measures are not 
everywhere equal, but larger in wholesale and smaller in retail 
markets. Similarly, the things which are just not by nature but by 
human enactment are not everywhere the same, since constitutions 
also are not the same, though there is but one which is everywhere 
by nature the best. Of things just and lawful each is related as the 
universal to its particulars; for the things that are done are many, 
but of them each is one, since it is universal. 

There is a difference between the act of injustice and what is 
unjust, and between the act of justice and what is just; for a thing 
is unjust by nature or by enactment; and this very thing, when it 
has been done, is an act of injustice, but before it is done is not 
yet that but is unjust. So, too, with an act of justice (though the 
general term is rather 'just action', and 'act of justice' is 
applied to the correction of the act of injustice) . 

Each of these must later be examined separately with regard to the 
nature and number of its species and the nature of the things with 
which it is concerned. 



Acts just and unjust being as we have described them, a man acts 
unjustly or justly whenever he does such acts voluntarily; when 
involuntarily, he acts neither unjustly nor justly except in an 
incidental way; for he does things which happen to be just or 
unjust. Whether an act is or is not one of injustice (or of justice) 
is determined by its voluntariness or involuntariness ; for when it 
is voluntary it is blamed, and at the same time is then an act of 
injustice; so that there will be things that are unjust but not yet 
acts of injustice, if voluntariness be not present as well. By the 
voluntary I mean, as has been said before, any of the things in a 
man's own power which he does with knowledge, i.e. not in ignorance 
either of the person acted on or of the instrument used or of the 
end that will be attained (e.g. whom he is striking, with what, and to 
what end) , each such act being done not incidentally nor under 
compulsion (e.g. if A takes B's hand and therewith strikes C, B does 
not act voluntarily; for the act was not in his own power) . The person 
struck may be the striker's father, and the striker may know that it 
is a man or one of the persons present, but not know that it is his 
father; a similar distinction may be made in the case of the end, 
and with regard to the whole action. Therefore that which is done in 
ignorance, or though not done in ignorance is not in the agent's 
power, or is done under compulsion, is involuntary (for many natural 
processes, even, we knowingly both perform and experience, none of 
which is either voluntary or involuntary; e.g. growing old or 
dying) . But in the case of unjust and just acts alike the injustice or 
justice may be only incidental; for a man might return a deposit 
unwillingly and from fear, and then he must not be said either to do 
what is just or to act justly, except in an incidental way. 



Similarly the man who under compulsion and unwillingly fails to return 
the deposit must be said to act unjustly, and to do what is unjust, 
only incidentally. Of voluntary acts we do some by choice, others 
not by choice; by choice those which we do after deliberation, not 
by choice those which we do without previous deliberation. Thus 
there are three kinds of injury in transactions between man and man; 
those done in ignorance are mistakes when the person acted on, the 
act, the instrument, or the end that will be attained is other than 
the agent supposed; the agent thought either that he was not hiting 
any one or that he was not hitting with this missile or not hitting 
this person or to this end, but a result followed other than that 
which he thought likely (e.g. he threw not with intent to wound but 
only to prick) , or the person hit or the missile was other than he 
supposed. Now when (1) the injury takes place contrary to reasonable 
expectation, it is a misadventure. When (2) it is not contrary to 
reasonable expectation, but does not imply vice, it is a mistake 
(for a man makes a mistake when the fault originates in him, but is 
the victim of accident when the origin lies outside him) . When (3) 
he acts with knowledge but not after deliberation, it is an act of 
injustice-e . g . the acts due to anger or to other passions necessary or 
natural to man; for when men do such harmful and mistaken acts they 
act unjustly, and the acts are acts of injustice, but this does not 
imply that the doers are unjust or wicked; for the injury is not due 
to vice. But when (4) a man acts from choice, he is an unjust man 
and a vicious man. 

Hence acts proceeding from anger are rightly judged not to be done 
of malice aforethought; for it is not the man who acts in anger but he 
who enraged him that starts the mischief. Again, the matter in dispute 
is not whether the thing happened or not, but its justice; for it is 
apparent injustice that occasions rage. For they do not dispute 
about the occurrence of the act-as in commercial transactions where 
one of the two parties must be vicious-unless they do so owing to 
f orgetf ulness ; but, agreeing about the fact, they dispute on which 
side justice lies (whereas a man who has deliberately injured 
another cannot help knowing that he has done so) , so that the one 
thinks he is being treated unjustly and the other disagrees. 

But if a man harms another by choice, he acts unjustly; and these 
are the acts of injustice which imply that the doer is an unjust 
man, provided that the act violates proportion or equality. Similarly, 
a man is just when he acts justly by choice; but he acts justly if 
he merely acts voluntarily. 

Of involuntary acts some are excusable, others not. For the mistakes 
which men make not only in ignorance but also from ignorance are 
excusable, while those which men do not from ignorance but (though 
they do them in ignorance) owing to a passion which is neither natural 
nor such as man is liable to, are not excusable. 

9 

Assuming that we have sufficiently defined the suffering and doing 
of injustice, it may be asked (1) whether the truth in expressed in 
Euripides' paradoxical words: 

I slew my mother, that's my tale in brief. 
Were you both willing, or unwilling both? 

Is it truly possible to be willingly treated unjustly, or is all 
suffering of injustice the contrary involuntary, as all unjust 
action is voluntary? And is all suffering of injustice of the latter 
kind or else all of the former, or is it sometimes voluntary, 
sometimes involuntary? So, too, with the case of being justly treated; 
all just action is voluntary, so that it is reasonable that there 
should be a similar opposition in either case-that both being unjustly 
and being justly treated should be either alike voluntary or alike 
involuntary. But it would be thought paradoxical even in the case of 



being justly treated, if it were always voluntary; for some are 
unwillingly treated justly. (2) One might raise this question also, 
whether every one who has suffered what is unjust is being unjustly 
treated, or on the other hand it is with suffering as with acting. 
In action and in passivity alike it is possible to partake of 
justice incidentally, and similarly (it is plain) of injustice; for to 
do what is unjust is not the same as to act unjustly, nor to suffer 
what is unjust as to be treated unjustly, and similarly in the case of 
acting justly and being justly treated; for it is impossible to be 
unjustly treated if the other does not act unjustly, or justly treated 
unless he acts justly. Now if to act unjustly is simply to harm some 
one voluntarily, and 'voluntarily' means 'knowing the person acted on, 
the instrument, and the manner of one's acting', and the incontinent 
man voluntarily harms himself, not only will he voluntarily be 
unjustly treated but it will be possible to treat oneself unjustly. 
(This also is one of the questions in doubt, whether a man can treat 
himself unjustly.) Again, a man may voluntarily, owing to 
incontinence, be harmed by another who acts voluntarily, so that it 
would be possible to be voluntarily treated unjustly. Or is our 
definition incorrect; must we to 'harming another, with knowledge both 
of the person acted on, of the instrument, and of the manner' add 
'contrary to the wish of the person acted on'? Then a man may be 
voluntarily harmed and voluntarily suffer what is unjust, but no one 
is voluntarily treated unjustly; for no one wishes to be unjustly 
treated, not even the incontinent man. He acts contrary to his wish; 
for no one wishes for what he does not think to be good, but the 
incontinent man does do things that he does not think he ought to 
do. Again, one who gives what is his own, as Homer says Glaucus gave 
Diomede 

Armour of gold for brazen, the price of a hundred beeves for nine, 

is not unjustly treated; for though to give is in his power, to be 
unjustly treated is not, but there must be some one to treat him 
unjustly. It is plain, then, that being unjustly treated is not 
voluntary . 

Of the questions we intended to discuss two still remain for 
discussion; (3) whether it is the man who has assigned to another more 
than his share that acts unjustly, or he who has the excessive 
share, and (4) whether it is possible to treat oneself unjustly. The 
questions are connected; for if the former alternative is possible and 
the distributor acts unjustly and not the man who has the excessive 
share, then if a man assigns more to another than to himself, 
knowingly and voluntarily, he treats himself unjustly; which is what 
modest people seem to do, since the virtuous man tends to take less 
than his share. Or does this statement too need qualification? For (a) 
he perhaps gets more than his share of some other good, e.g. of honour 
or of intrinsic nobility, (b) The question is solved by applying the 
distinction we applied to unjust action; for he suffers nothing 
contrary to his own wish, so that he is not unjustly treated as far as 
this goes, but at most only suffers harm. 

It is plain too that the distributor acts unjustly, but not always 
the man who has the excessive share; for it is not he to whom what 
is unjust appertains that acts unjustly, but he to whom it 
appertains to do the unjust act voluntarily, i.e. the person in whom 
lies the origin of the action, and this lies in the distributor, not 
in the receiver. Again, since the word 'do' is ambiguous, and there is 
a sense in which lifeless things, or a hand, or a servant who obeys an 
order, may be said to slay, he who gets an excessive share does not 
act unjustly, though he 'does' what is unjust. 

Again, if the distributor gave his judgement in ignorance, he does 
not act unjustly in respect of legal justice, and his judgement is not 
unjust in this sense, but in a sense it is unjust (for legal justice 
and primordial justice are different); but if with knowledge he judged 



unjustly, he is himself aiming at an excessive share either of 
gratitude or of revenge. As much, then, as if he were to share in 
the plunder, the man who has judged unjustly for these reasons has got 
too much; the fact that what he gets is different from what he 
distributes makes no difference, for even if he awards land with a 
view to sharing in the plunder he gets not land but money. 

Men think that acting unjustly is in their power, and therefore that 
being just is easy. But it is not; to lie with one's neighbour's wife, 
to wound another, to deliver a bribe, is easy and in our power, but to 
do these things as a result of a certain state of character is neither 
easy nor in our power. Similarly to know what is just and what is 
unjust requires, men think, no great wisdom, because it is not hard to 
understand the matters dealt with by the laws (though these are not 
the things that are just, except incidentally); but how actions must 
be done and distributions effected in order to be just, to know this 
is a greater achievement than knowing what is good for the health; 
though even there, while it is easy to know that honey, wine, 
hellebore, cautery, and the use of the knife are so, to know how, to 
whom, and when these should be applied with a view to producing 
health, is no less an achievement than that of being a physician. 
Again, for this very reason men think that acting unjustly is 
characteristic of the just man no less than of the unjust, because 
he would be not less but even more capable of doing each of these 
unjust acts; for he could lie with a woman or wound a neighbour; and 
the brave man could throw away his shield and turn to flight in this 
direction or in that. But to play the coward or to act unjustly 
consists not in doing these things, except incidentally, but in 
doing them as the result of a certain state of character, just as to 
practise medicine and healing consists not in applying or not applying 
the knife, in using or not using medicines, but in doing so in a 
certain way. 

Just acts occur between people who participate in things good in 
themselves and can have too much or too little of them; for some 
beings (e.g. presumably the gods) cannot have too much of them, and to 
others, those who are incurably bad, not even the smallest share in 
them is beneficial but all such goods are harmful, while to others 
they are beneficial up to a point; therefore justice is essentially 
something human. 

10 

Our next subject is equity and the equitable (to epiekes), and their 
respective relations to justice and the just. For on examination 
they appear to be neither absolutely the same nor generically 
different; and while we sometime praise what is equitable and the 
equitable man (so that we apply the name by way of praise even to 
instances of the other virtues, instead of 'good' meaning by 
epieikestebon that a thing is better), at other times, when we 
reason it out, it seems strange if the equitable, being something 
different from the just, is yet praiseworthy; for either the just or 
the equitable is not good, if they are different; or, if both are 
good, they are the same. 

These, then, are pretty much the considerations that give rise to 
the problem about the equitable; they are all in a sense correct and 
not opposed to one another; for the equitable, though it is better 
than one kind of justice, yet is just, and it is not as being a 
different class of thing that it is better than the just. The same 
thing, then, is just and equitable, and while both are good the 
equitable is superior. What creates the problem is that the 
equitable is just, but not the legally just but a correction of 
legal justice. The reason is that all law is universal but about 
some things it is not possible to make a universal statement which 
shall be correct. In those cases, then, in which it is necessary to 
speak universally, but not possible to do so correctly, the law 
takes the usual case, though it is not ignorant of the possibility 
of error. And it is none the less correct; for the error is in the law 



nor in the legislator but in the nature of the thing, since the matter 
of practical affairs is of this kind from the start. When the law 
speaks universally, then, and a case arises on it which is not covered 
by the universal statement, then it is right, where the legislator 
fails us and has erred by oversimplicity, to correct the omission-to 
say what the legislator himself would have said had he been present, 
and would have put into his law if he had known. Hence the equitable 
is just, and better than one kind of justice-not better than 
absolute justice but better than the error that arises from the 
absoluteness of the statement. And this is the nature of the 
equitable, a correction of law where it is defective owing to its 
universality. In fact this is the reason why all things are not 
determined by law, that about some things it is impossible to lay down 
a law, so that a decree is needed. For when the thing is indefinite 
the rule also is indefinite, like the leaden rule used in making the 
Lesbian moulding; the rule adapts itself to the shape of the stone and 
is not rigid, and so too the decree is adapted to the facts. 

It is plain, then, what the equitable is, and that it is just and is 
better than one kind of justice. It is evident also from this who 
the equitable man is; the man who chooses and does such acts, and is 
no stickler for his rights in a bad sense but tends to take less 
than his share though he has the law oft his side, is equitable, and 
this state of character is equity, which is a sort of justice and 
not a different state of character. 

11 

Whether a man can treat himself unjustly or not, is evident from 
what has been said. For (a) one class of just acts are those acts in 
accordance with any virtue which are prescribed by the law; e.g. the 
law does not expressly permit suicide, and what it does not 
expressly permit it forbids. Again, when a man in violation of the law 
harms another (otherwise than in retaliation) voluntarily, he acts 
unjustly, and a voluntary agent is one who knows both the person he is 
affecting by his action and the instrument he is using; and he who 
through anger voluntarily stabs himself does this contrary to the 
right rule of life, and this the law does not allow; therefore he is 
acting unjustly. But towards whom? Surely towards the state, not 
towards himself. For he suffers voluntarily, but no one is voluntarily 
treated unjustly. This is also the reason why the state punishes; a 
certain loss of civil rights attaches to the man who destroys himself, 
on the ground that he is treating the state unjustly. 

Further (b) in that sense of 'acting unjustly' in which the man 
who 'acts unjustly' is unjust only and not bad all round, it is not 
possible to treat oneself unjustly (this is different from the 
former sense; the unjust man in one sense of the term is wicked in a 
particularized way just as the coward is, not in the sense of being 
wicked all round, so that his 'unjust act' does not manifest 
wickedness in general) . For (i) that would imply the possibility of 
the same thing's having been subtracted from and added to the same 
thing at the same time; but this is impossible-the just and the unjust 
always involve more than one person. Further, (ii) unjust action is 
voluntary and done by choice, and takes the initiative (for the man 
who because he has suffered does the same in return is not thought 
to act unjustly) ; but if a man harms himself he suffers and does the 
same things at the same time. Further, (iii) if a man could treat 
himself unjustly, he could be voluntarily treated unjustly. Besides, 
(iv) no one acts unjustly without committing particular acts of 
injustice; but no one can commit adultery with his own wife or 
housebreaking on his own house or theft on his own property, 

In general, the question 'can a man treat himself unjustly?' is 
solved also by the distinction we applied to the question 'can a man 
be voluntarily treated unjustly?' 

(It is evident too that both are bad, being unjustly treated and 
acting unjustly; for the one means having less and the other having 



more than the intermediate amount, which plays the part here that 
the healthy does in the medical art, and that good condition does in 
the art of bodily training. But still acting unjustly is the worse, 
for it involves vice and is blameworthy-involves vice which is 
either of the complete and unqualified kind or almost so (we must 
admit the latter alternative, because not all voluntary unjust 
action implies injustice as a state of character), while being 
unjustly treated does not involve vice and injustice in oneself. In 
itself, then, being unjustly treated is less bad, but there is nothing 
to prevent its being incidentally a greater evil. But theory cares 
nothing for this; it calls pleurisy a more serious mischief than a 
stumble; yet the latter may become incidentally the more serious, if 
the fall due to it leads to your being taken prisoner or put to 
death the enemy.) 

Metaphorically and in virtue of a certain resemblance there is a 
justice, not indeed between a man and himself, but between certain 
parts of him; yet not every kind of justice but that of master and 
servant or that of husband and wife. For these are the ratios in which 
the part of the soul that has a rational principle stands to the 
irrational part; and it is with a view to these parts that people also 
think a man can be unjust to himself, viz. because these parts are 
liable to suffer something contrary to their respective desires; there 
is therefore thought to be a mutual justice between them as between 
ruler and ruled. 

Let this be taken as our account of justice and the other, i.e. 
the other moral, virtues. 

BOOK VI 
1 

SINCE we have previously said that one ought to choose that which is 
intermediate, not the excess nor the defect, and that the intermediate 
is determined by the dictates of the right rule, let us discuss the 
nature of these dictates. In all the states of character we have 
mentioned, as in all other matters, there is a mark to which the man 
who has the rule looks, and heightens or relaxes his activity 
accordingly, and there is a standard which determines the mean 
states which we say are intermediate between excess and defect, 
being in accordance with the right rule. But such a statement, 
though true, is by no means clear; for not only here but in all 
other pursuits which are objects of knowledge it is indeed true to say 
that we must not exert ourselves nor relax our efforts too much nor 
too little, but to an intermediate extent and as the right rule 
dictates; but if a man had only this knowledge he would be none the 
wiser e.g. we should not know what sort of medicines to apply to our 
body if some one were to say 'all those which the medical art 
prescribes, and which agree with the practice of one who possesses the 
art' . Hence it is necessary with regard to the states of the soul also 
not only that this true statement should be made, but also that it 
should be determined what is the right rule and what is the standard 
that fixes it. 

We divided the virtues of the soul and a said that some are 
virtues of character and others of intellect. Now we have discussed in 
detail the moral virtues; with regard to the others let us express our 
view as follows, beginning with some remarks about the soul. We said 
before that there are two parts of the soul-that which grasps a rule 
or rational principle, and the irrational; let us now draw a similar 
distinction within the part which grasps a rational principle. And let 
it be assumed that there are two parts which grasp a rational 
principle-one by which we contemplate the kind of things whose 
originative causes are invariable, and one by which we contemplate 
variable things; for where objects differ in kind the part of the soul 
answering to each of the two is different in kind, since it is in 
virtue of a certain likeness and kinship with their objects that 
they have the knowledge they have. Let one of these parts be called 



the scientific and the other the calculative; for to deliberate and to 
calculate are the same thing, but no one deliberates about the 
invariable. Therefore the calculative is one part of the faculty which 
grasps a rational principle. We must, then, learn what is the best 
state of each of these two parts; for this is the virtue of each. 

2 

The virtue of a thing is relative to its proper work. Now there 
are three things in the soul which control action and truth-sensation, 
reason, desire. 

Of these sensation originates no action; this is plain from the fact 
that the lower animals have sensation but no share in action. 

What affirmation and negation are in thinking, pursuit and avoidance 
are in desire; so that since moral virtue is a state of character 
concerned with choice, and choice is deliberate desire, therefore both 
the reasoning must be true and the desire right, if the choice is to 
be good, and the latter must pursue just what the former asserts. 
Now this kind of intellect and of truth is practical; of the intellect 
which is contemplative, not practical nor productive, the good and the 
bad state are truth and falsity respectively (for this is the work 
of everything intellectual); while of the part which is practical 
and intellectual the good state is truth in agreement with right 
desire . 

The origin of action-its efficient, not its final cause-is choice, 
and that of choice is desire and reasoning with a view to an end. This 
is why choice cannot exist either without reason and intellect or 
without a moral state; for good action and its opposite cannot exist 
without a combination of intellect and character. Intellect itself, 
however, moves nothing, but only the intellect which aims at an end 
and is practical; for this rules the productive intellect, as well, 
since every one who makes makes for an end, and that which is made 
is not an end in the unqualified sense (but only an end in a 
particular relation, and the end of a particular operation) -only 
that which is done is that; for good action is an end, and desire aims 
at this. Hence choice is either desiderative reason or ratiocinative 
desire, and such an origin of action is a man. (It is to be noted that 
nothing that is past is an object of choice, e.g. no one chooses to 
have sacked Troy; for no one deliberates about the past, but about 
what is future and capable of being otherwise, while what is past is 
not capable of not having taken place; hence Agathon is right in 
saying 

For this alone is lacking even to God, 

To make undone things thathave once been done.) 

The work of both the intellectual parts, then, is truth. Therefore 
the states that are most strictly those in respect of which each of 
these parts will reach truth are the virtues of the two parts. 

3 

Let us begin, then, from the beginning, and discuss these states 
once more. Let it be assumed that the states by virtue of which the 
soul possesses truth by way of affirmation or denial are five in 
number, i.e. art, scientific knowledge, practical wisdom, 
philosophic wisdom, intuitive reason; we do not include judgement 
and opinion because in these we may be mistaken. 

Now what scientific knowledge is, if we are to speak exactly and not 
follow mere similarities, is plain from what follows. We all suppose 
that what we know is not even capable of being otherwise; of things 
capable of being otherwise we do not know, when they have passed 
outside our observation, whether they exist or not. Therefore the 
object of scientific knowledge is of necessity. Therefore it is 
eternal; for things that are of necessity in the unqualified sense are 
all eternal; and things that are eternal are ungenerated and 



imperishable. Again, every science is thought to be capable of being 
taught, and its object of being learned. And all teaching starts 
from what is already known, as we maintain in the Analytics also; 
for it proceeds sometimes through induction and sometimes by 
syllogism. Now induction is the starting-point which knowledge even of 
the universal presupposes, while syllogism proceeds from universals. 
There are therefore starting-points from which syllogism proceeds, 
which are not reached by syllogism; it is therefore by induction 
that they are acquired. Scientific knowledge is, then, a state of 
capacity to demonstrate, and has the other limiting characteristics 
which we specify in the Analytics, for it is when a man believes in 
a certain way and the starting-points are known to him that he has 
scientific knowledge, since if they are not better known to him than 
the conclusion, he will have his knowledge only incidentally. 

Let this, then, be taken as our account of scientific knowledge. 

4 

In the variable are included both things made and things done; 
making and acting are different (for their nature we treat even the 
discussions outside our school as reliable) ; so that the reasoned 
state of capacity to act is different from the reasoned state of 
capacity to make. Hence too they are not included one in the other; 
for neither is acting making nor is making acting. Now since 
architecture is an art and is essentially a reasoned state of capacity 
to make, and there is neither any art that is not such a state nor any 
such state that is not an art, art is identical with a state of 
capacity to make, involving a true course of reasoning. All art is 
concerned with coming into being, i.e. with contriving and considering 
how something may come into being which is capable of either being 
or not being, and whose origin is in the maker and not in the thing 
made; for art is concerned neither with things that are, or come 
into being, by necessity, nor with things that do so in accordance 
with nature (since these have their origin in themselves) . Making 
and acting being different, art must be a matter of making, not of 
acting. And in a sense chance and art are concerned with the same 
objects; as Agathon says, 'art loves chance and chance loves art' . 
Art, then, as has been is a state concerned with making, involving a 
true course of reasoning, and lack of art on the contrary is a state 
concerned with making, involving a false course of reasoning; both are 
concerned with the variable. 

5 

Regarding practical wisdom we shall get at the truth by 
considering who are the persons we credit with it. Now it is thought 
to be the mark of a man of practical wisdom to be able to deliberate 
well about what is good and expedient for himself, not in some 
particular respect, e.g. about what sorts of thing conduce to health 
or to strength, but about what sorts of thing conduce to the good life 
in general. This is shown by the fact that we credit men with 
practical wisdom in some particular respect when they have 
calculated well with a view to some good end which is one of those 
that are not the object of any art. It follows that in the general 
sense also the man who is capable of deliberating has practical 
wisdom. Now no one deliberates about things that are invariable, nor 
about things that it is impossible for him to do. Therefore, since 
scientific knowledge involves demonstration, but there is no 
demonstration of things whose first principles are variable (for all 
such things might actually be otherwise) , and since it is impossible 
to deliberate about things that are of necessity, practical wisdom 
cannot be scientific knowledge nor art; not science because that which 
can be done is capable of being otherwise, not art because action 
and making are different kinds of thing. The remaining alternative, 
then, is that it is a true and reasoned state of capacity to act 
with regard to the things that are good or bad for man. For while 



making has an end other than itself, action cannot; for good action 
itself is its end. It is for this reason that we think Pericles and 
men like him have practical wisdom, viz. because they can see what 
is good for themselves and what is good for men in general; we 
consider that those can do this who are good at managing households or 
states. (This is why we call temperance (sophrosune) by this name; 
we imply that it preserves one's practical wisdom (sozousa tan 
phronsin) . Now what it preserves is a judgement of the kind we have 
described. For it is not any and every judgement that pleasant and 
painful objects destroy and pervert, e.g. the judgement that the 
triangle has or has not its angles equal to two right angles, but only 
judgements about what is to be done. For the originating causes of the 
things that are done consist in the end at which they are aimed; but 
the man who has been ruined by pleasure or pain forthwith fails to see 
any such originating cause-to see that for the sake of this or because 
of this he ought to choose and do whatever he chooses and does; for 
vice is destructive of the originating cause of action.) Practical 
wisdom, then, must be a reasoned and true state of capacity to act 
with regard to human goods. But further, while there is such a thing 
as excellence in art, there is no such thing as excellence in 
practical wisdom; and in art he who errs willingly is preferable, 
but in practical wisdom, as in the virtues, he is the reverse. 
Plainly, then, practical wisdom is a virtue and not an art. There 
being two parts of the soul that can follow a course of reasoning, 
it must be the virtue of one of the two, i.e. of that part which forms 
opinions; for opinion is about the variable and so is practical 
wisdom. But yet it is not only a reasoned state; this is shown by 
the fact that a state of that sort may forgotten but practical 
wisdom cannot. 

6 

Scientific knowledge is judgement about things that are universal 
and necessary, and the conclusions of demonstration, and all 
scientific knowledge, follow from first principles (for scientific 
knowledge involves apprehension of a rational ground) . This being 
so, the first principle from which what is scientifically known 
follows cannot be an object of scientific knowledge, of art, or of 
practical wisdom; for that which can be scientifically known can be 
demonstrated, and art and practical wisdom deal with things that are 
variable. Nor are these first principles the objects of philosophic 
wisdom, for it is a mark of the philosopher to have demonstration 
about some things. If, then, the states of mind by which we have truth 
and are never deceived about things invariable or even variable are 
scientific knowlededge, practical wisdom, philosophic wisdom, and 
intuitive reason, and it cannot be any of the three (i.e. practical 
wisdom, scientific knowledge, or philosophic wisdom) , the remaining 
alternative is that it is intuitive reason that grasps the first 
principles . 

7 

Wisdom (1) in the arts we ascribe to their most finished 
exponents, e.g. to Phidias as a sculptor and to Polyclitus as a 
maker of portrait-statues, and here we mean nothing by wisdom except 
excellence in art; but (2) we think that some people are wise in 
general, not in some particular field or in any other limited respect, 
as Homer says in the Margites, 

Him did the gods make neither a digger nor yet a ploughman 
Nor wise in anything else. 

Therefore wisdom must plainly be the most finished of the forms of 
knowledge. It follows that the wise man must not only know what 
follows from the first principles, but must also possess truth about 
the first principles. Therefore wisdom must be intuitive reason 



combined with scientific knowledge-scientific knowledge of the highest 
objects which has received as it were its proper completion. 

Of the highest objects, we say; for it would be strange to think 
that the art of politics, or practical wisdom, is the best 
knowledge, since man is not the best thing in the world. Now if what 
is healthy or good is different for men and for fishes, but what is 
white or straight is always the same, any one would say that what is 
wise is the same but what is practically wise is different; for it 
is to that which observes well the various matters concerning itself 
that one ascribes practical wisdom, and it is to this that one will 
entrust such matters. This is why we say that some even of the lower 
animals have practical wisdom, viz. those which are found to have a 
power of foresight with regard to their own life. It is evident also 
that philosophic wisdom and the art of politics cannot be the same; 
for if the state of mind concerned with a man's own interests is to be 
called philosophic wisdom, there will be many philosophic wisdoms; 
there will not be one concerned with the good of all animals (any more 
than there is one art of medicine for all existing things), but a 
different philosophic wisdom about the good of each species. 

But if the argument be that man is the best of the animals, this 
makes no difference; for there are other things much more divine in 
their nature even than man, e.g., most conspicuously, the bodies of 
which the heavens are framed. From what has been said it is plain, 
then, that philosophic wisdom is scientific knowledge, combined with 
intuitive reason, of the things that are highest by nature. This is 
why we say Anaxagoras, Thales, and men like them have philosophic 
but not practical wisdom, when we see them ignorant of what is to 
their own advantage, and why we say that they know things that are 
remarkable, admirable, difficult, and divine, but useless; viz. 
because it is not human goods that they seek. 

Practical wisdom on the other hand is concerned with things human 
and things about which it is possible to deliberate; for we say this 
is above all the work of the man of practical wisdom, to deliberate 
well, but no one deliberates about things invariable, nor about things 
which have not an end, and that a good that can be brought about by 
action. The man who is without qualification good at deliberating is 
the man who is capable of aiming in accordance with calculation at the 
best for man of things attainable by action. Nor is practical wisdom 
concerned with universals only-it must also recognize the particulars; 
for it is practical, and practice is concerned with particulars. 
This is why some who do not know, and especially those who have 
experience, are more practical than others who know; for if a man knew 
that light meats are digestible and wholesome, but did not know 
which sorts of meat are light, he would not produce health, but the 
man who knows that chicken is wholesome is more likely to produce 
health . 

Now practical wisdom is concerned with action; therefore one 
should have both forms of it, or the latter in preference to the 
former. But of practical as of philosophic wisdom there must be a 
controlling kind. 



Political wisdom and practical wisdom are the same state of mind, 
but their essence is not the same. Of the wisdom concerned with the 
city, the practical wisdom which plays a controlling part is 
legislative wisdom, while that which is related to this as particulars 
to their universal is known by the general name 'political wisdom'; 
this has to do with action and deliberation, for a decree is a thing 
to be carried out in the form of an individual act. This is why the 
exponents of this art are alone said to 'take part in polities'; for 
these alone 'do things' as manual labourers 'do things'. 

Practical wisdom also is identified especially with that form of 
it which is concerned with a man himself-with the individual; and this 
is known by the general name 'practical wisdom'; of the other kinds 



one is called household management, another legislation, the third 
politics, and of the latter one part is called deliberative and the 
other judicial. Now knowing what is good for oneself will be one 
kind of knowledge, but it is very different from the other kinds; 
and the man who knows and concerns himself with his own interests is 
thought to have practical wisdom, while politicians are thought to 
be busybodies; hence the word of Euripides, 

But how could I be wise, who might at ease, 

Numbered among the army's multitude, 

Have had an equal share? 

For those who aim too high and do too much. 

Those who think thus seek their own good, and consider that one 
ought to do so. From this opinion, then, has come the view that such 
men have practical wisdom; yet perhaps one's own good cannot exist 
without household management, nor without a form of government. 
Further, how one should order one's own affairs is not clear and needs 
inquiry . 

What has been said is confirmed by the fact that while young men 
become geometricians and mathematicians and wise in matters like 
these, it is thought that a young man of practical wisdom cannot be 
found. The cause is that such wisdom is concerned not only with 
universals but with particulars, which become familiar from 
experience, but a young man has no experience, for it is length of 
time that gives experience; indeed one might ask this question too, 
why a boy may become a mathematician, but not a philosopher or a 
physicist. It is because the objects of mathematics exist by 
abstraction, while the first principles of these other subjects come 
from experience, and because young men have no conviction about the 
latter but merely use the proper language, while the essence of 
mathematical objects is plain enough to them? 

Further, error in deliberation may be either about the universal 
or about the particular; we may fall to know either that all water 
that weighs heavy is bad, or that this particular water weighs heavy. 

That practical wisdom is not scientific knowledge is evident; for it 
is, as has been said, concerned with the ultimate particular fact, 
since the thing to be done is of this nature. It is opposed, then, 
to intuitive reason; for intuitive reason is of the limiting 
premisses, for which no reason can be given, while practical wisdom is 
concerned with the ultimate particular, which is the object not of 
scientific knowledge but of perception-not the perception of qualities 
peculiar to one sense but a perception akin to that by which we 
perceive that the particular figure before us is a triangle; for in 
that direction as well as in that of the major premiss there will be a 
limit. But this is rather perception than practical wisdom, though 
it is another kind of perception than that of the qualities peculiar 
to each sense. 

9 

There is a difference between inquiry and deliberation; for 
deliberation is inquiry into a particular kind of thing. We must grasp 
the nature of excellence in deliberation as well whether it is a 
form of scientific knowledge, or opinion, or skill in conjecture, or 
some other kind of thing. Scientific knowledge it is not; for men do 
not inquire about the things they know about, but good deliberation is 
a kind of deliberation, and he who deliberates inquires and 
calculates. Nor is it skill in conjecture; for this both involves no 
reasoning and is something that is quick in its operation, while men 
deliberate a long time, and they say that one should carry out quickly 
the conclusions of one's deliberation, but should deliberate slowly. 
Again, readiness of mind is different from excellence in deliberation; 
it is a sort of skill in conjecture. Nor again is excellence in 
deliberation opinion of any sort. But since the man who deliberates 



badly makes a mistake, while he who deliberates well does so 
correctly, excellence in deliberation is clearly a kind of 
correctness, but neither of knowledge nor of opinion; for there is 
no such thing as correctness of knowledge (since there is no such 
thing as error of knowledge) , and correctness of opinion is truth; and 
at the same time everything that is an object of opinion is already 
determined. But again excellence in deliberation involves reasoning. 
The remaining alternative, then, is that it is correctness of 
thinking; for this is not yet assertion, since, while even opinion 
is not inquiry but has reached the stage of assertion, the man who 
is deliberating, whether he does so well or ill, is searching for 
something and calculating. 

But excellence in deliberation is a certain correctness of 
deliberation; hence we must first inquire what deliberation is and 
what it is about. And, there being more than one kind of 
correctness, plainly excellence in deliberation is not any and every 
kind; for (1) the incontinent man and the bad man, if he is clever, 
will reach as a result of his calculation what he sets before himself, 
so that he will have deliberated correctly, but he will have got for 
himself a great evil. Now to have deliberated well is thought to be 
a good thing; for it is this kind of correctness of deliberation 
that is excellence in deliberation, viz. that which tends to attain 
what is good. But (2) it is possible to attain even good by a false 
syllogism, and to attain what one ought to do but not by the right 
means, the middle term being false; so that this too is not yet 
excellence in deliberation this state in virtue of which one attains 
what one ought but not by the right means. Again (3) it is possible to 
attain it by long deliberation while another man attains it quickly. 
Therefore in the former case we have not yet got excellence in 
deliberation, which is rightness with regard to the 

expedient-rightness in respect both of the end, the manner, and the 
time. (4) Further it is possible to have deliberated well either in 
the unqualified sense or with reference to a particular end. 
Excellence in deliberation in the unqualified sense, then, is that 
which succeeds with reference to what is the end in the unqualified 
sense, and excellence in deliberation in a particular sense is that 
which succeeds relatively to a particular end. If, then, it is 
characteristic of men of practical wisdom to have deliberated well, 
excellence in deliberation will be correctness with regard to what 
conduces to the end of which practical wisdom is the true 
apprehension . 

10 

Understanding, also, and goodness of understanding, in virtue of 
which men are said to be men of understanding or of good 
understanding, are neither entirely the same as opinion or 
scientific knowledge (for at that rate all men would have been men 
of understanding), nor are they one of the particular sciences, such 
as medicine, the science of things connected with health, or geometry, 
the science of spatial magnitudes. For understanding is neither 
about things that are always and are unchangeable, nor about any and 
every one of the things that come into being, but about things which 
may become subjects of questioning and deliberation. Hence it is about 
the same objects as practical wisdom; but understanding and 
practical wisdom are not the same. For practical wisdom issues 
commands, since its end is what ought to be done or not to be done; 
but understanding only judges. (Understanding is identical with 
goodness of understanding, men of understanding with men of good 
understanding.) Now understanding is neither the having nor the 
acquiring of practical wisdom; but as learning is called understanding 
when it means the exercise of the faculty of knowledge, so 
'understanding' is applicable to the exercise of the faculty of 
opinion for the purpose of judging of what some one else says about 
matters with which practical wisdom is concerned-and of judging 



soundly; for 'well' and 'soundly' are the same thing. And from this 
has come the use of the name 'understanding' in virtue of which men 
are said to be 'of good understanding', viz. from the application of 
the word to the grasping of scientific truth; for we often call such 
grasping understanding. 

11 

What is called judgement, in virtue of which men are said to 'be 
sympathetic judges' and to 'have judgement', is the right 
discrimination of the equitable. This is shown by the fact that we say 
the equitable man is above all others a man of sympathetic 
judgement, and identify equity with sympathetic judgement about 
certain facts. And sympathetic judgement is judgement which 
discriminates what is equitable and does so correctly; and correct 
judgement is that which judges what is true. 

Now all the states we have considered converge, as might be 
expected, to the same point; for when we speak of judgement and 
understanding and practical wisdom and intuitive reason we credit 
the same people with possessing judgement and having reached years 
of reason and with having practical wisdom and understanding. For 
all these faculties deal with ultimates, i.e. with particulars; and 
being a man of understanding and of good or sympathetic judgement 
consists in being able judge about the things with which practical 
wisdom is concerned; for the equities are common to all good men in 
relation to other men. Now all things which have to be done are 
included among particulars or ultimates; for not only must the man 
of practical wisdom know particular facts, but understanding and 
judgement are also concerned with things to be done, and these are 
ultimates. And intuitive reason is concerned with the ultimates in 
both directions; for both the first terms and the last are objects 
of intuitive reason and not of argument, and the intuitive reason 
which is presupposed by demonstrations grasps the unchangeable and 
first terms, while the intuitive reason involved in practical 
reasonings grasps the last and variable fact, i.e. the minor 
premiss. For these variable facts are the starting-points for the 
apprehension of the end, since the universals are reached from the 
particulars; of these therefore we must have perception, and this 
perception is intuitive reason. 

This is why these states are thought to be natural endowments-why, 
while no one is thought to be a philosopher by nature, people are 
thought to have by nature judgement, understanding, and intuitive 
reason. This is shown by the fact that we think our powers 
correspond to our time of life, and that a particular age brings 
with it intuitive reason and judgement; this implies that nature is 
the cause. (Hence intuitive reason is both beginning and end; for 
demonstrations are from these and about these.) Therefore we ought 
to attend to the undemonstrated sayings and opinions of experienced 
and older people or of people of practical wisdom not less than to 
demonstrations; for because experience has given them an eye they 
see aright. 

We have stated, then, what practical and philosophic wisdom are, and 
with what each of them is concerned, and we have said that each is the 
virtue of a different part of the soul. 

12 

Difficulties might be raised as to the utility of these qualities of 
mind. For (1) philosophic wisdom will contemplate none of the things 
that will make a man happy (for it is not concerned with any coming 
into being) , and though practical wisdom has this merit, for what 
purpose do we need it? Practical wisdom is the quality of mind 
concerned with things just and noble and good for man, but these are 
the things which it is the mark of a good man to do, and we are none 
the more able to act for knowing them if the virtues are states of 
character, just as we are none the better able to act for knowing 



the things that are healthy and sound, in the sense not of producing 
but of issuing from the state of health; for we are none the more able 
to act for having the art of medicine or of gymnastics. But (2) if 
we are to say that a man should have practical wisdom not for the sake 
of knowing moral truths but for the sake of becoming good, practical 
wisdom will be of no use to those who are good; again it is of no 
use to those who have not virtue; for it will make no difference 
whether they have practical wisdom themselves or obey others who 
have it, and it would be enough for us to do what we do in the case of 
health; though we wish to become healthy, yet we do not learn the 
art of medicine. (3) Besides this, it would be thought strange if 
practical wisdom, being inferior to philosophic wisdom, is to be put 
in authority over it, as seems to be implied by the fact that the 
art which produces anything rules and issues commands about that 
thing . 

These, then, are the questions we must discuss; so far we have 
only stated the difficulties. 

(1) Now first let us say that in themselves these states must be 
worthy of choice because they are the virtues of the two parts of 
the soul respectively, even if neither of them produce anything. 

(2) Secondly, they do produce something, not as the art of 
medicine produces health, however, but as health produces health; so 
does philosophic wisdom produce happiness; for, being a part of virtue 
entire, by being possessed and by actualizing itself it makes a man 
happy. 

(3) Again, the work of man is achieved only in accordance with 
practical wisdom as well as with moral virtue; for virtue makes us aim 
at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means. 
(Of the fourth part of the soul-the nutritive-there is no such virtue; 
for there is nothing which it is in its power to do or not to do.) 

(4) With regard to our being none the more able to do because of our 
practical wisdom what is noble and just, let us begin a little further 
back, starting with the following principle. As we say that some 
people who do just acts are not necessarily just, i.e. those who do 
the acts ordained by the laws either unwillingly or owing to ignorance 
or for some other reason and not for the sake of the acts themselves 
(though, to be sure, they do what they should and all the things 

that the good man ought), so is it, it seems, that in order to be good 
one must be in a certain state when one does the several acts, i.e. 
one must do them as a result of choice and for the sake of the acts 
themselves. Now virtue makes the choice right, but the question of the 
things which should naturally be done to carry out our choice 
belongs not to virtue but to another faculty. We must devote our 
attention to these matters and give a clearer statement about them. 
There is a faculty which is called cleverness; and this is such as 
to be able to do the things that tend towards the mark we have set 
before ourselves, and to hit it. Now if the mark be noble, the 
cleverness is laudable, but if the mark be bad, the cleverness is mere 
smartness; hence we call even men of practical wisdom clever or smart. 
Practical wisdom is not the faculty, but it does not exist without 
this faculty. And this eye of the soul acquires its formed state not 
without the aid of virtue, as has been said and is plain; for the 
syllogisms which deal with acts to be done are things which involve 
a starting-point, viz. 'since the end, i.e. what is best, is of such 
and such a nature', whatever it may be (let it for the sake of 
argument be what we please) ; and this is not evident except to the 
good man; for wickedness perverts us and causes us to be deceived 
about the starting-points of action. Therefore it is evident that it 
is impossible to be practically wise without being good. 

13 

We must therefore consider virtue also once more; for virtue too 
is similarly related; as practical wisdom is to cleverness-not the 
same, but like it-so is natural virtue to virtue in the strict 



sense. For all men think that each type of character belongs to its 
possessors in some sense by nature; for from the very moment of 
birth we are just or fitted for selfcontrol or brave or have the other 
moral qualities; but yet we seek something else as that which is 
good in the strict sense-we seek for the presence of such qualities in 
another way. For both children and brutes have the natural 
dispositions to these qualities, but without reason these are 
evidently hurtful. Only we seem to see this much, that, while one 
may be led astray by them, as a strong body which moves without 
sight may stumble badly because of its lack of sight, still, if a 
man once acquires reason, that makes a difference in action; and his 
state, while still like what it was, will then be virtue in the strict 
sense. Therefore, as in the part of us which forms opinions there 
are two types, cleverness and practical wisdom, so too in the moral 
part there are two types, natural virtue and virtue in the strict 
sense, and of these the latter involves practical wisdom. This is 
why some say that all the virtues are forms of practical wisdom, and 
why Socrates in one respect was on the right track while in another he 
went astray; in thinking that all the virtues were forms of 
practical wisdom he was wrong, but in saying they implied practical 
wisdom he was right. This is confirmed by the fact that even now all 
men, when they define virtue, after naming the state of character 
and its objects add 'that (state) which is in accordance with the 
right rule'; now the right rule is that which is in accordance with 
practical wisdom. All men, then, seem somehow to divine that this kind 
of state is virtue, viz. that which is in accordance with practical 
wisdom. But we must go a little further. For it is not merely the 
state in accordance with the right rule, but the state that implies 
the presence of the right rule, that is virtue; and practical wisdom 
is a right rule about such matters. Socrates, then, thought the 
virtues were rules or rational principles (for he thought they were, 
all of them, forms of scientific knowledge) , while we think they 
involve a rational principle. 

It is clear, then, from what has been said, that it is not 
possible to be good in the strict sense without practical wisdom, 
nor practically wise without moral virtue. But in this way we may also 
refute the dialectical argument whereby it might be contended that the 
virtues exist in separation from each other; the same man, it might be 
said, is not best equipped by nature for all the virtues, so that he 
will have already acquired one when he has not yet acquired another. 
This is possible in respect of the natural virtues, but not in respect 
of those in respect of which a man is called without qualification 
good; for with the presence of the one quality, practical wisdom, will 
be given all the virtues. And it is plain that, even if it were of 
no practical value, we should have needed it because it is the 
virtue of the part of us in question; plain too that the choice will 
not be right without practical wisdom any more than without virtue; 
for the one deter, mines the end and the other makes us do the 
things that lead to the end. 

But again it is not supreme over philosophic wisdom, i.e. over the 
superior part of us, any more than the art of medicine is over health; 
for it does not use it but provides for its coming into being; it 
issues orders, then, for its sake, but not to it. Further, to maintain 
its supremacy would be like saying that the art of politics rules 
the gods because it issues orders about all the affairs of the state. 

BOOK VII 
1 

LET us now make a fresh beginning and point out that of moral states 
to be avoided there are three kinds-vice, incontinence, brutishness. 
The contraries of two of these are evident, -one we call virtue, the 
other continence; to brutishness it would be most fitting to oppose 
superhuman virtue, a heroic and divine kind of virtue, as Homer has 
represented Priam saying of Hector that he was very good, 



For he seemed not, he, 
The child of a mortal man, but as one that of God's seed came. 

Therefore if, as they say, men become gods by excess of virtue, of 
this kind must evidently be the state opposed to the brutish state; 
for as a brute has no vice or virtue, so neither has a god; his 
state is higher than virtue, and that of a brute is a different kind 
of state from vice. 

Now, since it is rarely that a godlike man is found-to use the 
epithet of the Spartans, who when they admire any one highly call 
him a 'godlike man '-so too the brutish type is rarely found among men; 
it is found chiefly among barbarians, but some brutish qualities are 
also produced by disease or deformity; and we also call by this evil 
name those men who go beyond all ordinary standards by reason of vice. 
Of this kind of disposition, however, we must later make some mention, 
while we have discussed vice before we must now discuss incontinence 
and softness (or effeminacy), and continence and endurance; for we 
must treat each of the two neither as identical with virtue or 
wickedness, nor as a different genus. We must, as in all other 
cases, set the observed facts before us and, after first discussing 
the difficulties, go on to prove, if possible, the truth of all the 
common opinions about these affections of the mind, or, failing 
this, of the greater number and the most authoritative; for if we both 
refute the objections and leave the common opinions undisturbed, we 
shall have proved the case sufficiently. 

Now (1) both continence and endurance are thought to be included 
among things good and praiseworthy, and both incontinence and soft, 
ness among things bad and blameworthy; and the same man is thought 
to be continent and ready to abide by the result of his 
calculations, or incontinent and ready to abandon them. And (2) the 
incontinent man, knowing that what he does is bad, does it as a result 
of passion, while the continent man, knowing that his appetites are 
bad, refuses on account of his rational principle to follow them (3) 
The temperate man all men call continent and disposed to endurance, 
while the continent man some maintain to be always temperate but 
others do not; and some call the self-indulgent man incontinent and 
the incontinent man self indulgent indiscriminately, while others 
distinguish them. (4) The man of practical wisdom, they sometimes say, 
cannot be incontinent, while sometimes they say that some who are 
practically wise and clever are incontinent. Again (5) men are said to 
be incontinent even with respect to anger, honour, and gain. -These, 
then, are the things that are said. 

2 

Now we may ask (1) how a man who judges rightly can behave 
incontinently. That he should behave so when he has knowledge, some 
say is impossible; for it would be strange-so Socrates thought-if when 
knowledge was in a man something else could master it and drag it 
about like a slave. For Socrates was entirely opposed to the view in 
question, holding that there is no such thing as incontinence; no one, 
he said, when he judges acts against what he judges best-people act so 
only by reason of ignorance. Now this view plainly contradicts the 
observed facts, and we must inquire about what happens to such a 
man; if he acts by reason of ignorance, what is the manner of his 
ignorance? For that the man who behaves incontinently does not, before 
he gets into this state, think he ought to act so, is evident. But 
there are some who concede certain of Socrates' contentions but not 
others; that nothing is stronger than knowledge they admit, but not 
that on one acts contrary to what has seemed to him the better course, 
and therefore they say that the incontinent man has not knowledge when 
he is mastered by his pleasures, but opinion. But if it is opinion and 
not knowledge, if it is not a strong conviction that resists but a 
weak one, as in men who hesitate, we sympathize with their failure 



to stand by such convictions against strong appetites; but we do not 
sympathize with wickedness, nor with any of the other blameworthy 
states. Is it then practical wisdom whose resistance is mastered? That 
is the strongest of all states. But this is absurd; the same man 
will be at once practically wise and incontinent, but no one would say 
that it is the part of a practically wise man to do willingly the 
basest acts. Besides, it has been shown before that the man of 
practical wisdom is one who will act (for he is a man concerned with 
the individual facts) and who has the other virtues. 

(2) Further, if continence involves having strong and bad appetites, 
the temperate man will not be continent nor the continent man 
temperate; for a temperate man will have neither excessive nor bad 
appetites. But the continent man must; for if the appetites are 

good, the state of character that restrains us from following them 
is bad, so that not all continence will be good; while if they are 
weak and not bad, there is nothing admirable in resisting them, and if 
they are weak and bad, there is nothing great in resisting these 
either . 

(3) Further, if continence makes a man ready to stand by any and 
every opinion, it is bad, i.e. if it makes him stand even by a false 
opinion; and if incontinence makes a man apt to abandon any and 
every opinion, there will be a good incontinence, of which 
Sophocles' Neoptolemus in the Philoctetes will be an instance; for 

he is to be praised for not standing by what Odysseus persuaded him to 
do, because he is pained at telling a lie. 

(4) Further, the sophistic argument presents a difficulty; the 
syllogism arising from men's wish to expose paradoxical results 
arising from an opponent's view, in order that they may be admired 
when they succeed, is one that puts us in a difficulty (for thought is 
bound fast when it will not rest because the conclusion does not 
satisfy it, and cannot advance because it cannot refute the argument) . 
There is an argument from which it follows that folly coupled with 
incontinence is virtue; for a man does the opposite of what he judges, 
owing to incontinence, but judges what is good to be evil and 
something that he should not do, and consequence he will do what is 
good and not what is evil. 

(5) Further, he who on conviction does and pursues and chooses 

what is pleasant would be thought to be better than one who does so as 
a result not of calculation but of incontinence; for he is easier to 
cure since he may be persuaded to change his mind. But to the 
incontinent man may be applied the proverb 'when water chokes, what is 
one to wash it down with?' If he had been persuaded of the rightness 
of what he does, he would have desisted when he was persuaded to 
change his mind; but now he acts in spite of his being persuaded of 
something quite different. 

(6) Further, if incontinence and continence are concerned with any 
and every kind of object, who is it that is incontinent in the 
unqualified sense? No one has all the forms of incontinence, but we 
say some people are incontinent without qualification. 

3 

Of some such kind are the difficulties that arise; some of these 
points must be refuted and the others left in possession of the field; 
for the solution of the difficulty is the discovery of the truth. 
(1) We must consider first, then, whether incontinent people act 
knowingly or not, and in what sense knowingly; then (2) with what 
sorts of object the incontinent and the continent man may be said to 
be concerned (i.e. whether with any and every pleasure and pain or 
with certain determinate kinds), and whether the continent man and the 
man of endurance are the same or different; and similarly with 
regard to the other matters germane to this inquiry. The 
starting-point of our investigation is (a) the question whether the 
continent man and the incontinent are differentiated by their 
objects or by their attitude, i.e. whether the incontinent man is 



incontinent simply by being concerned with such and such objects, 
or, instead, by his attitude, or, instead of that, by both these 
things; (b) the second question is whether incontinence and continence 
are concerned with any and every object or not. The man who is 
incontinent in the unqualified sense is neither concerned with any and 
every object, but with precisely those with which the self-indulgent 
man is concerned, nor is he characterized by being simply related to 
these (for then his state would be the same as self-indulgence), but 
by being related to them in a certain way. For the one is led on in 
accordance with his own choice, thinking that he ought always to 
pursue the present pleasure; while the other does not think so, but 
yet pursues it. 

(1) As for the suggestion that it is true opinion and not 
knowledge against which we act incontinently, that makes no difference 
to the argument; for some people when in a state of opinion do not 
hesitate, but think they know exactly. If, then, the notion is that 
owing to their weak conviction those who have opinion are more 
likely to act against their judgement than those who know, we answer 
that there need be no difference between knowledge and opinion in this 
respect; for some men are no less convinced of what they think than 
others of what they know; as is shown by the of Heraclitus. But (a), 
since we use the word 'know' in two senses (for both the man who has 
knowledge but is not using it and he who is using it are said to 
know) , it will make a difference whether, when a man does what he 
should not, he has the knowledge but is not exercising it, or is 
exercising it; for the latter seems strange, but not the former. 

(b) Further, since there are two kinds of premisses, there is 
nothing to prevent a man's having both premisses and acting against 
his knowledge, provided that he is using only the universal premiss 
and not the particular; for it is particular acts that have to be 
done. And there are also two kinds of universal term; one is 
predicable of the agent, the other of the object; e.g. 'dry food is 
good for every man', and 'I am a man', or 'such and such food is dry'; 
but whether 'this food is such and such', of this the incontinent 
man either has not or is not exercising the knowledge. There will, 
then, be, firstly, an enormous difference between these manners of 
knowing, so that to know in one way when we act incontinently would 
not seem anything strange, while to know in the other way would be 
extraordinary. 

And further (c) the possession of knowledge in another sense than 
those just named is something that happens to men; for within the case 
of having knowledge but not using it we see a difference of state, 
admitting of the possibility of having knowledge in a sense and yet 
not having it, as in the instance of a man asleep, mad, or drunk. 
But now this is just the condition of men under the influence of 
passions; for outbursts of anger and sexual appetites and some other 
such passions, it is evident, actually alter our bodily condition, and 
in some men even produce fits of madness. It is plain, then, that 
incontinent people must be said to be in a similar condition to men 
asleep, mad, or drunk. The fact that men use the language that flows 
from knowledge proves nothing; for even men under the influence of 
these passions utter scientific proofs and verses of Empedocles, and 
those who have just begun to learn a science can string together its 
phrases, but do not yet know it; for it has to become part of 
themselves, and that takes time; so that we must suppose that the 
use of language by men in an incontinent state means no more than 
its utterance by actors on the stage, (d) Again, we may also view 
the cause as follows with reference to the facts of human nature. 
The one opinion is universal, the other is concerned with the 
particular facts, and here we come to something within the sphere of 
perception; when a single opinion results from the two, the soul 
must in one type of case affirm the conclusion, while in the case of 
opinions concerned with production it must immediately act (e.g. if 
'everything sweet ought to be tasted', and 'this is sweet', in the 



sense of being one of the particular sweet things, the man who can act 
and is not prevented must at the same time actually act 
accordingly) . When, then, the universal opinion is present in us 
forbidding us to taste, and there is also the opinion that 'everything 
sweet is pleasant', and that 'this is sweet' (now this is the 
opinion that is active) , and when appetite happens to be present in 
us, the one opinion bids us avoid the object, but appetite leads us 
towards it (for it can move each of our bodily parts) ; so that it 
turns out that a man behaves incontinently under the influence (in a 
sense) of a rule and an opinion, and of one not contrary in itself, 
but only incidentally-f or the appetite is contrary, not the opinion-to 
the right rule. It also follows that this is the reason why the 
lower animals are not incontinent, viz. because they have no universal 
judgement but only imagination and memory of particulars. 

The explanation of how the ignorance is dissolved and the 
incontinent man regains his knowledge, is the same as in the case of 
the man drunk or asleep and is not peculiar to this condition; we must 
go to the students of natural science for it. Now, the last premiss 
both being an opinion about a perceptible object, and being what 
determines our actions this a man either has not when he is in the 
state of passion, or has it in the sense in which having knowledge did 
not mean knowing but only talking, as a drunken man may utter the 
verses of Empedocles . And because the last term is not universal nor 
equally an object of scientific knowledge with the universal term, the 
position that Socrates sought to establish actually seems to result; 
for it is not in the presence of what is thought to be knowledge 
proper that the affection of incontinence arises (nor is it this 
that is 'dragged about' as a result of the state of passion), but in 
that of perceptual knowledge. 

This must suffice as our answer to the question of action with and 
without knowledge, and how it is possible to behave incontinently with 
knowledge . 

4 

(2) We must next discuss whether there is any one who is incontinent 
without qualification, or all men who are incontinent are so in a 
particular sense, and if there is, with what sort of objects he is 
concerned. That both continent persons and persons of endurance, and 
incontinent and soft persons, are concerned with pleasures and 
pains, is evident. 

Now of the things that produce pleasure some are necessary, while 
others are worthy of choice in themselves but admit of excess, the 
bodily causes of pleasure being necessary (by such I mean both those 
concerned with food and those concerned with sexual intercourse, 
i.e. the bodily matters with which we defined self-indulgence and 
temperance as being concerned) , while the others are not necessary but 
worthy of choice in themselves (e.g. victory, honour, wealth, and good 
and pleasant things of this sort) . This being so, (a) those who go 
to excess with reference to the latter, contrary to the right rule 
which is in themselves, are not called incontinent simply, but 
incontinent with the qualification 'in respect of money, gain, honour, 
or anger', -not simply incontinent, on the ground that they are 
different from incontinent people and are called incontinent by reason 
of a resemblance. (Compare the case of Anthropos (Man), who won a 
contest at the Olympic games; in his case the general definition of 
man differed little from the definition peculiar to him, but yet it 
was different.) This is shown by the fact that incontinence either 
without qualification or in respect of some particular bodily pleasure 
is blamed not only as a fault but as a kind of vice, while none of the 
people who are incontinent in these other respects is so blamed. 

But (b) of the people who are incontinent with respect to bodily 
enjoyments, with which we say the temperate and the self-indulgent man 
are concerned, he who pursues the excesses of things pleasant-and 
shuns those of things painful, of hunger and thirst and heat and 



cold and all the objects of touch and taste-not by choice but contrary 
to his choice and his judgement, is called incontinent, not with the 
qualification 'in respect of this or that', e.g. of anger, but just 
simply. This is confirmed by the fact that men are called 'soft' 
with regard to these pleasures, but not with regard to any of the 
others. And for this reason we group together the incontinent and 
the self-indulgent, the continent and the temperate man-but not any of 
these other types-because they are concerned somehow with the same 
pleasures and pains; but though these are concerned with the same 
objects, they are not similarly related to them, but some of them make 
a deliberate choice while the others do not. 

This is why we should describe as self-indulgent rather the man 
who without appetite or with but a slight appetite pursues the 
excesses of pleasure and avoids moderate pains, than the man who 
does so because of his strong appetites; for what would the former do, 
if he had in addition a vigorous appetite, and a violent pain at the 
lack of the 'necessary' objects? 

Now of appetites and pleasures some belong to the class of things 
generically noble and good-for some pleasant things are by nature 
worthy of choice, while others are contrary to these, and others are 
intermediate, to adopt our previous distinction-e . g . wealth, gain, 
victory, honour. And with reference to all objects whether of this 
or of the intermediate kind men are not blamed for being affected by 
them, for desiring and loving them, but for doing so in a certain way, 
i.e. for going to excess. (This is why all those who contrary to the 
rule either are mastered by or pursue one of the objects which are 
naturally noble and good, e.g. those who busy themselves more than 
they ought about honour or about children and parents, (are not 
wicked) ; for these too are good, and those who busy themselves about 
them are praised; but yet there is an excess even in them-if like 
Niobe one were to fight even against the gods, or were to be as much 
devoted to one's father as Satyrus nicknamed 'the filial', who was 
thought to be very silly on this point.) There is no wickedness, then, 
with regard to these objects, for the reason named, viz. because 
each of them is by nature a thing worthy of choice for its own sake; 
yet excesses in respect of them are bad and to be avoided. Similarly 
there is no incontinence with regard to them; for incontinence is 
not only to be avoided but is also a thing worthy of blame; but 
owing to a similarity in the state of feeling people apply the name 
incontinence, adding in each case what it is in respect of, as we 
may describe as a bad doctor or a bad actor one whom we should not 
call bad, simply. As, then, in this case we do not apply the term 
without qualification because each of these conditions is no 
shadness but only analogous to it, so it is clear that in the other 
case also that alone must be taken to be incontinence and continence 
which is concerned with the same objects as temperance and 
self-indulgence, but we apply the term to anger by virtue of a 
resemblance; and this is why we say with a qualification 
'incontinent in respect of anger' as we say 'incontinent in respect of 
honour, or of gain' . 

5 

(1) Some things are pleasant by nature, and of these (a) some are so 
without qualification, and (b) others are so with reference to 
particular classes either of animals or of men; while (2) others are 
not pleasant by nature, but (a) some of them become so by reason of 
injuries to the system, and (b) others by reason of acquired habits, 
and (c) others by reason of originally bad natures. This being so, 
it is possible with regard to each of the latter kinds to discover 
similar states of character to those recognized with regard to the 
former; I mean (A) the brutish states, as in the case of the female 
who, they say, rips open pregnant women and devours the infants, or of 
the things in which some of the tribes about the Black Sea that have 
gone savage are said to delight-in raw meat or in human flesh, or in 



lending their children to one another to feast upon-or of the story 
told of Phalaris. 

These states are brutish, but (B) others arise as a result of 
disease (or, in some cases, of madness, as with the man who sacrificed 
and ate his mother, or with the slave who ate the liver of his 
fellow) , and others are morbid states (C) resulting from custom, 
e.g. the habit of plucking out the hair or of gnawing the nails, or 
even coals or earth, and in addition to these paederasty; for these 
arise in some by nature and in others, as in those who have been the 
victims of lust from childhood, from habit. 

Now those in whom nature is the cause of such a state no one would 
call incontinent, any more than one would apply the epithet to women 
because of the passive part they play in copulation; nor would one 
apply it to those who are in a morbid condition as a result of 
habit. To have these various types of habit is beyond the limits of 
vice, as brutishness is too; for a man who has them to master or be 
mastered by them is not simple (continence or) incontinence but that 
which is so by analogy, as the man who is in this condition in respect 
of fits of anger is to be called incontinent in respect of that 
feeling but not incontinent simply. For every excessive state 
whether of folly, of cowardice, of self-indulgence, or of bad 
temper, is either brutish or morbid; the man who is by nature apt to 
fear everything, even the squeak of a mouse, is cowardly with a 
brutish cowardice, while the man who feared a weasel did so in 
consequence of disease; and of foolish people those who by nature 
are thoughtless and live by their senses alone are brutish, like 
some races of the distant barbarians, while those who are so as a 
result of disease (e.g. of epilepsy) or of madness are morbid. Of 
these characteristics it is possible to have some only at times, and 
not to be mastered by them. e.g. Phalaris may have restrained a desire 
to eat the flesh of a child or an appetite for unnatural sexual 
pleasure; but it is also possible to be mastered, not merely to have 
the feelings. Thus, as the wickedness which is on the human level is 
called wickedness simply, while that which is not is called wickedness 
not simply but with the qualification 'brutish' or 'morbid', in the 
same way it is plain that some incontinence is brutish and some 
morbid, while only that which corresponds to human self-indulgence 
is incontinence simply. 

That incontinence and continence, then, are concerned only with 
the same objects as self indulgence and temperance and that what is 
concerned with other objects is a type distinct from incontinence, and 
called incontinence by a metaphor and not simply, is plain. 

6 

That incontinence in respect of anger is less disgraceful than 
that in respect of the appetites is what we will now proceed to see. 
(1) Anger seems to listen to argument to some extent, but to mishear 
it, as do hasty servants who run out before they have heard the 
whole of what one says, and then muddle the order, or as dogs bark 
if there is but a knock at the door, before looking to see if it is 
a friend; so anger by reason of the warmth and hastiness of its 
nature, though it hears, does not hear an order, and springs to take 
revenge. For argument or imagination informs us that we have been 
insulted or slighted, and anger, reasoning as it were that anything 
like this must be fought against, boils up straightway; while 
appetite, if argument or perception merely says that an object is 
pleasant, springs to the enjoyment of it. Therefore anger obeys the 
argument in a sense, but appetite does not. It is therefore more 
disgraceful; for the man who is incontinent in respect of anger is 
in a sense conquered by argument, while the other is conquered by 
appetite and not by argument. 

(2) Further, we pardon people more easily for following natural 
desires, since we pardon them more easily for following such appetites 
as are common to all men, and in so far as they are common; now 



anger and bad temper are more natural than the appetites for excess, 
i.e. for unnecessary objects. Take for instance the man who defended 
himself on the charge of striking his father by saying 'yes, but he 
struck his father, and he struck his, and' (pointing to his child) 
'this boy will strike me when he is a man; it runs in the family'; 
or the man who when he was being dragged along by his son bade him 
stop at the doorway, since he himself had dragged his father only as 
far as that. 

(2) Further, those who are more given to plotting against others are 
more criminal. Now a passionate man is not given to plotting, nor is 
anger itself-it is open; but the nature of appetite is illustrated 
by what the poets call Aphrodite, 'guile-weaving daughter of 
Cyprus', and by Homer's words about her 'embroidered girdle': 

And the whisper of wooing is there, 
Whose subtlety stealeth the wits of the wise, how prudent soe'er. 

Therefore if this form of incontinence is more criminal and 
disgraceful than that in respect of anger, it is both incontinence 
without qualification and in a sense vice. 

(4) Further, no one commits wanton outrage with a feeling of pain, 
but every one who acts in anger acts with pain, while the man who 
commits outrage acts with pleasure. If, then, those acts at which it 
is most just to be angry are more criminal than others, the 
incontinence which is due to appetite is the more criminal; for 
there is no wanton outrage involved in anger. 

Plainly, then, the incontinence concerned with appetite is more 
disgraceful than that concerned with anger, and continence and 
incontinence are concerned with bodily appetites and pleasures; but we 
must grasp the differences among the latter themselves. For, as has 
been said at the beginning, some are human and natural both in kind 
and in magnitude, others are brutish, and others are due to organic 
injuries and diseases. Only with the first of these are temperance and 
self-indulgence concerned; this is why we call the lower animals 
neither temperate nor self-indulgent except by a metaphor, and only if 
some one race of animals exceeds another as a whole in wantonness, 
destructiveness, and omnivorous greed; these have no power of choice 
or calculation, but they are departures from the natural norm, as, 
among men, madmen are. Now brutishness is a less evil than vice, 
though more alarming; for it is not that the better part has been 
perverted, as in man, -they have no better part. Thus it is like 
comparing a lifeless thing with a living in respect of badness; for 
the badness of that which has no originative source of movement is 
always less hurtful, and reason is an originative source. Thus it is 
like comparing injustice in the abstract with an unjust man. Each is 
in some sense worse; for a bad man will do ten thousand times as 
much evil as a brute. 

7 

With regard to the pleasures and pains and appetites and aversions 
arising through touch and taste, to which both self-indulgence and 
temperance were formerly narrowed down, it possible to be in such a 
state as to be defeated even by those of them which most people 
master, or to master even those by which most people are defeated; 
among these possibilities, those relating to pleasures are 
incontinence and continence, those relating to pains softness and 
endurance. The state of most people is intermediate, even if they lean 
more towards the worse states . 

Now, since some pleasures are necessary while others are not, and 
are necessary up to a point while the excesses of them are not, nor 
the deficiencies, and this is equally true of appetites and pains, the 
man who pursues the excesses of things pleasant, or pursues to 
excess necessary objects, and does so by choice, for their own sake 
and not at all for the sake of any result distinct from them, is 



self-indulgent; for such a man is of necessity unlikely to repent, and 
therefore incurable, since a man who cannot repent cannot be cured. 
The man who is deficient in his pursuit of them is the opposite of 
self-indulgent; the man who is intermediate is temperate. Similarly, 
there is the man who avoids bodily pains not because he is defeated by 
them but by choice. (Of those who do not choose such acts, one kind of 
man is led to them as a result of the pleasure involved, another 
because he avoids the pain arising from the appetite, so that these 
types differ from one another. Now any one would think worse of a 
man with no appetite or with weak appetite were he to do something 
disgraceful, than if he did it under the influence of powerful 
appetite, and worse of him if he struck a blow not in anger than if he 
did it in anger; for what would he have done if he had been strongly 
affected? This is why the self-indulgent man is worse than the 
incontinent.) of the states named, then, the latter is rather a kind 
of softness; the former is self-indulgence. While to the incontinent 
man is opposed the continent, to the soft is opposed the man of 
endurance; for endurance consists in resisting, while continence 
consists in conquering, and resisting and conquering are different, as 
not being beaten is different from winning; this is why continence 
is also more worthy of choice than endurance. Now the man who is 
defective in respect of resistance to the things which most men both 
resist and resist successfully is soft and effeminate; for 
effeminacy too is a kind of softness; such a man trails his cloak to 
avoid the pain of lifting it, and plays the invalid without thinking 
himself wretched, though the man he imitates is a wretched man. 

The case is similar with regard to continence and incontinence. 
For if a man is defeated by violent and excessive pleasures or 
pains, there is nothing wonderful in that; indeed we are ready to 
pardon him if he has resisted, as Theodectes ' Philoctetes does when 
bitten by the snake, or Carcinus ' Cercyon in the Alope, and as 
people who try to restrain their laughter burst out into a guffaw, 
as happened to Xenophantus . But it is surprising if a man is 
defeated by and cannot resist pleasures or pains which most men can 
hold out against, when this is not due to heredity or disease, like 
the softness that is hereditary with the kings of the Scythians, or 
that which distinguishes the female sex from the male. 

The lover of amusement, too, is thought to be self-indulgent, but is 
really soft. For amusement is a relaxation, since it is a rest from 
work; and the lover of amusement is one of the people who go to excess 
in this . 

Of incontinence one kind is impetuosity, another weakness. For 
some men after deliberating fail, owing to their emotion, to stand 
by the conclusions of their deliberation, others because they have not 
deliberated are led by their emotion; since some men (just as people 
who first tickle others are not tickled themselves), if they have 
first perceived and seen what is coming and have first roused 
themselves and their calculative faculty, are not defeated by their 
emotion, whether it be pleasant or painful. It is keen and excitable 
people that suffer especially from the impetuous form of incontinence; 
for the former by reason of their quickness and the latter by reason 
of the violence of their passions do not await the argument, because 
they are apt to follow their imagination. 



The self-indulgent man, as was said, is not apt to repent; for he 
stands by his choice; but incontinent man is likely to repent. This is 
why the position is not as it was expressed in the formulation of 
the problem, but the self indulgent man is incurable and the 
incontinent man curable; for wickedness is like a disease such as 
dropsy or consumption, while incontinence is like epilepsy; the former 
is a permanent, the latter an intermittent badness. And generally 
incontinence and vice are different in kind; vice is unconscious of 
itself, incontinence is not (of incontinent men themselves, those 



who become temporarily beside themselves are better than those who 
have the rational principle but do not abide by it, since the latter 
are defeated by a weaker passion, and do not act without previous 
deliberation like the others); for the incontinent man is like the 
people who get drunk quickly and on little wine, i.e. on less than 
most people. 

Evidently, then, incontinence is not vice (though perhaps it is so 
in a qualified sense) ; for incontinence is contrary to choice while 
vice is in accordance with choice; not but what they are similar in 
respect of the actions they lead to; as in the saying of Demodocus 
about the Milesians, 'the Milesians are not without sense, but they do 
the things that senseless people do', so too incontinent people are 
not criminal, but they will do criminal acts. 

Now, since the incontinent man is apt to pursue, not on 
conviction, bodily pleasures that are excessive and contrary to the 
right rule, while the self-indulgent man is convinced because he is 
the sort of man to pursue them, it is on the contrary the former 
that is easily persuaded to change his mind, while the latter is 
not. For virtue and vice respectively preserve and destroy the first 
principle, and in actions the final cause is the first principle, as 
the hypotheses are in mathematics; neither in that case is it argument 
that teaches the first principles, nor is it so here-virtue either 
natural or produced by habituation is what teaches right opinion about 
the first principle. Such a man as this, then, is temperate; his 
contrary is the self-indulgent. 

But there is a sort of man who is carried away as a result of 
passion and contrary to the right rule-a man whom passion masters so 
that he does not act according to the right rule, but does not 
master to the extent of making him ready to believe that he ought to 
pursue such pleasures without reserve; this is the incontinent man, 
who is better than the self-indulgent man, and not bad without 
qualification; for the best thing in him, the first principle, is 
preserved. And contrary to him is another kind of man, he who abides 
by his convictions and is not carried away, at least as a result of 
passion. It is evident from these considerations that the latter is 
a good state and the former a bad one. 

9 

Is the man continent who abides by any and every rule and any and 
every choice, or the man who abides by the right choice, and is he 
incontinent who abandons any and every choice and any and every 
rule, or he who abandons the rule that is not false and the choice 
that is right; this is how we put it before in our statement of the 
problem. Or is it incidentally any and every choice but per se the 
true rule and the right choice by which the one abides and the other 
does not? If any one chooses or pursues this for the sake of that, per 
se he pursues and chooses the latter, but incidentally the former. But 
when we speak without qualification we mean what is per se. 
Therefore in a sense the one abides by, and the other abandons, any 
and every opinion; but without qualification, the true opinion. 

There are some who are apt to abide by their opinion, who are called 
strong-headed, viz. those who are hard to persuade in the first 
instance and are not easily persuaded to change; these have in them 
something like the continent man, as the prodigal is in a way like the 
liberal man and the rash man like the confident man; but they are 
different in many respects. For it is to passion and appetite that the 
one will not yield, since on occasion the continent man will be easy 
to persuade; but it is to argument that the others refuse to yield, 
for they do form appetites and many of them are led by their 
pleasures . Now the people who are strong-headed are the opinionated, 
the ignorant, and the boorish-the opinionated being influenced by 
pleasure and pain; for they delight in the victory they gain if they 
are not persuaded to change, and are pained if their decisions 
become null and void as decrees sometimes do; so that they are liker 



the incontinent than the continent man. 

But there are some who fail to abide by their resolutions, not as 
a result of incontinence, e.g. Neoptolemus in Sophocles' 
Philoctetes ; yet it was for the sake of pleasure that he did not stand 
fast-but a noble pleasure; for telling the truth was noble to him, but 
he had been persuaded by Odysseus to tell the lie. For not every one 
who does anything for the sake of pleasure is either self-indulgent or 
bad or incontinent, but he who does it for a disgraceful pleasure. 

Since there is also a sort of man who takes less delight than he 
should in bodily things, and does not abide by the rule, he who is 
intermediate between him and the incontinent man is the continent man; 
for the incontinent man fails to abide by the rule because he delights 
too much in them, and this man because he delights in them too little; 
while the continent man abides by the rule and does not change on 
either account. Now if continence is good, both the contrary states 
must be bad, as they actually appear to be; but because the other 
extreme is seen in few people and seldom, as temperance is thought 
to be contrary only to self-indulgence, so is continence to 
incontinence . 

Since many names are applied analogically, it is by analogy that 
we have come to speak of the 'continence' the temperate man; for 
both the continent man and the temperate man are such as to do nothing 
contrary to the rule for the sake of the bodily pleasures, but the 
former has and the latter has not bad appetites, and the latter is 
such as not to feel pleasure contrary to the rule, while the former is 
such as to feel pleasure but not to be led by it. And the incontinent 
and the self-indulgent man are also like another; they are different, 
but both pursue bodily pleasures- the latter, however, also thinking 
that he ought to do so, while the former does not think this. 

10 

Nor can the same man have practical wisdom and be incontinent; for 
it has been shown' that a man is at the same time practically wise, 
and good in respect of character. Further, a man has practical 
wisdom not by knowing only but by being able to act; but the 
incontinent man is unable to act-there is, however, nothing to prevent 
a clever man from being incontinent; this is why it is sometimes 
actually thought that some people have practical wisdom but are 
incontinent, viz. because cleverness and practical wisdom differ in 
the way we have described in our first discussions, and are near 
together in respect of their reasoning, but differ in respect of their 
purpose-nor yet is the incontinent man like the man who knows and is 
contemplating a truth, but like the man who is asleep or drunk. And he 
acts willingly (for he acts in a sense with knowledge both of what 
he does and of the end to which he does it) , but is not wicked, 
since his purpose is good; so that he is half-wicked. And he is not 
a criminal; for he does not act of malice aforethought; of the two 
types of incontinent man the one does not abide by the conclusions 
of his deliberation, while the excitable man does not deliberate at 
all. And thus the incontinent man like a city which passes all the 
right decrees and has good laws, but makes no use of them, as in 
Anaxandrides ' jesting remark, 

The city willed it, that cares nought for laws; 

but the wicked man is like a city that uses its laws, but has wicked 
laws to use. 

Now incontinence and continence are concerned with that which is 
in excess of the state characteristic of most men; for the continent 
man abides by his resolutions more and the incontinent man less than 
most men can. 

Of the forms of incontinence, that of excitable people is more 
curable than that of those who deliberate but do not abide by their 
decisions, and those who are incontinent through habituation are 



more curable than those in whom incontinence is innate; for it is 
easier to change a habit than to change one's nature; even habit is 
hard to change just because it is like nature, as Evenus says: 

I say that habit's but a long practice, friend, 
And this becomes men's nature in the end. 

We have now stated what continence, incontinence, endurance, and 
softness are, and how these states are related to each other. 

11 

The study of pleasure and pain belongs to the province of the 
political philosopher; for he is the architect of the end, with a view 
to which we call one thing bad and another good without qualification. 
Further, it is one of our necessary tasks to consider them; for not 
only did we lay it down that moral virtue and vice are concerned 
with pains and pleasures, but most people say that happiness 
involves pleasure; this is why the blessed man is called by a name 
derived from a word meaning enjoyment. 

Now (1) some people think that no pleasure is a good, either in 
itself or incidentally, since the good and pleasure are not the 
same; (2) others think that some pleasures are good but that most 
are bad. (3) Again there is a third view, that even if all pleasures 
are good, yet the best thing in the world cannot be pleasure. (1) 
The reasons given for the view that pleasure is not a good at all 
are (a) that every pleasure is a perceptible process to a natural 
state, and that no process is of the same kind as its end, e.g. no 
process of building of the same kind as a house, (b) A temperate man 
avoids pleasures, (c) A man of practical wisdom pursues what is free 
from pain, not what is pleasant, (d) The pleasures are a hindrance 
to thought, and the more so the more one delights in them, e.g. in 
sexual pleasure; for no one could think of anything while absorbed 
in this, (e) There is no art of pleasure; but every good is the 
product of some art. (f) Children and the brutes pursue pleasures. (2) 
The reasons for the view that not all pleasures are good are that 
(a) there are pleasures that are actually base and objects of 
reproach, and (b) there are harmful pleasures; for some pleasant 
things are unhealthy. (3) The reason for the view that the best 
thing in the world is not pleasure is that pleasure is not an end 
but a process. 

12 

These are pretty much the things that are said. That it does not 
follow from these grounds that pleasure is not a good, or even the 
chief good, is plain from the following considerations. (A) (a) First, 
since that which is good may be so in either of two senses (one 
thing good simply and another good for a particular person) , natural 
constitutions and states of being, and therefore also the 
corresponding movements and processes, will be correspondingly 
divisible. Of those which are thought to be bad some will be bad if 
taken without qualification but not bad for a particular person, but 
worthy of his choice, and some will not be worthy of choice even for a 
particular person, but only at a particular time and for a short 
period, though not without qualification; while others are not even 
pleasures, but seem to be so, viz. all those which involve pain and 
whose end is curative, e.g. the processes that go on in sick persons. 

(b) Further, one kind of good being activity and another being 
state, the processes that restore us to our natural state are only 
incidentally pleasant; for that matter the activity at work in the 
appetites for them is the activity of so much of our state and 
nature as has remained unimpaired; for there are actually pleasures 
that involve no pain or appetite (e.g. those of contemplation), the 
nature in such a case not being defective at all. That the others 



are incidental is indicated by the fact that men do not enjoy the same 
pleasant objects when their nature is in its settled state as they 
do when it is being replenished, but in the former case they enjoy the 
things that are pleasant without qualification, in the latter the 
contraries of these as well; for then they enjoy even sharp and bitter 
things, none of which is pleasant either by nature or without 
qualification. The states they produce, therefore, are not pleasures 
naturally or without qualification; for as pleasant things differ, 
so do the pleasures arising from them. 

(c) Again, it is not necessary that there should be something else 
better than pleasure, as some say the end is better than the 
process; for leasures are not processes nor do they all involve 
process-they are activities and ends; nor do they arise when we are 
becoming something, but when we are exercising some faculty; and not 
all pleasures have an end different from themselves, but only the 
pleasures of persons who are being led to the perfecting of their 
nature. This is why it is not right to say that pleasure is 
perceptible process, but it should rather be called activity of the 
natural state, and instead of 'perceptible' 'unimpeded'. It is thought 
by some people to be process just because they think it is in the 
strict sense good; for they think that activity is process, which it 
is not. 

(B) The view that pleasures are bad because some pleasant things are 
unhealthy is like saying that healthy things are bad because some 
healthy things are bad for money-making; both are bad in the respect 
mentioned, but they are not bad for that reason-indeed, thinking 
itself is sometimes injurious to health. 

Neither practical wisdom nor any state of being is impeded by the 
pleasure arising from it; it is foreign pleasures that impede, for the 
pleasures arising from thinking and learning will make us think and 
learn all the more. 

(C) The fact that no pleasure is the product of any art arises 
naturally enough; there is no art of any other activity either, but 
only of the corresponding faculty; though for that matter the arts 
of the perfumer and the cook are thought to be arts of pleasure. 

(D) The arguments based on the grounds that the temperate man avoids 
pleasure and that the man of practical wisdom pursues the painless 
life, and that children and the brutes pursue pleasure, are all 
refuted by the same consideration. We have pointed out in what sense 
pleasures are good without qualification and in what sense some are 
not good; now both the brutes and children pursue pleasures of the 
latter kind (and the man of practical wisdom pursues tranquil 
freedom from that kind), viz. those which imply appetite and pain, 
i.e. the bodily pleasures (for it is these that are of this nature) 
and the excesses of them, in respect of which the self-indulgent man 
is self-indulent . This is why the temperate man avoids these 
pleasures; for even he has pleasures of his own. 

13 

But further (E) it is agreed that pain is bad and to be avoided; for 
some pain is without qualification bad, and other pain is bad 
because it is in some respect an impediment to us. Now the contrary of 
that which is to be avoided, qua something to be avoided and bad, is 
good. Pleasure, then, is necessarily a good. For the answer of 
Speusippus, that pleasure is contrary both to pain and to good, as the 
greater is contrary both to the less and to the equal, is not 
successful; since he would not say that pleasure is essentially just a 
species of evil. 

And (F) if certain pleasures are bad, that does not prevent the 
chief good from being some pleasure, just as the chief good may be 
some form of knowledge though certain kinds of knowledge are bad. 
Perhaps it is even necessary, if each disposition has unimpeded 
activities, that, whether the activity (if unimpeded) of all our 
dispositions or that of some one of them is happiness, this should 



be the thing most worthy of our choice; and this activity is pleasure. 
Thus the chief good would be some pleasure, though most pleasures 
might perhaps be bad without qualification. And for this reason all 
men think that the happy life is pleasant and weave pleasure into 
their ideal of happiness-and reasonably too; for no activity is 
perfect when it is impeded, and happiness is a perfect thing; this 
is why the happy man needs the goods of the body and external goods, 
i.e. those of fortune, viz. in order that he may not be impeded in 
these ways. Those who say that the victim on the rack or the man who 
falls into great misfortunes is happy if he is good, are, whether they 
mean to or not, talking nonsense. Now because we need fortune as 
well as other things, some people think good fortune the same thing as 
happiness; but it is not that, for even good fortune itself when in 
excess is an impediment, and perhaps should then be no longer called 
good fortune; for its limit is fixed by reference to happiness. 

And indeed the fact that all things, both brutes and men, pursue 
pleasure is an indication of its being somehow the chief good: 

No voice is wholly lost that many peoples... 

But since no one nature or state either is or is thought the best 
for all, neither do all pursue the same pleasure; yet all pursue 
pleasure. And perhaps they actually pursue not the pleasure they think 
they pursue nor that which they would say they pursue, but the same 
pleasure; for all things have by nature something divine in them. 
But the bodily pleasures have appropriated the name both because we 
oftenest steer our course for them and because all men share in 
them; thus because they alone are familiar, men think there are no 
others . 

It is evident also that if pleasure, i.e. the activity of our 
faculties, is not a good, it will not be the case that the happy man 
lives a pleasant life; for to what end should he need pleasure, if 
it is not a good but the happy man may even live a painful life? For 
pain is neither an evil nor a good, if pleasure is not; why then 
should he avoid it? Therefore, too, the life of the good man will 
not be pleasanter than that of any one else, if his activities are not 
more pleasant. 

14 

(G) With regard to the bodily pleasures, those who say that some 
pleasures are very much to be chosen, viz. the noble pleasures, but 
not the bodily pleasures, i.e. those with which the self-indulgent man 
is concerned, must consider why, then, the contrary pains are bad. For 
the contrary of bad is good. Are the necessary pleasures good in the 
sense in which even that which is not bad is good? Or are they good up 
to a point? Is it that where you have states and processes of which 
there cannot be too much, there cannot be too much of the 
corresponding pleasure, and that where there can be too much of the 
one there can be too much of the other also? Now there can be too much 
of bodily goods, and the bad man is bad by virtue of pursuing the 
excess, not by virtue of pursuing the necessary pleasures (for all men 
enjoy in some way or other both dainty foods and wines and sexual 
intercourse, but not all men do so as they ought) . The contrary is the 
case with pain; for he does not avoid the excess of it, he avoids it 
altogether; and this is peculiar to him, for the alternative to excess 
of pleasure is not pain, except to the man who pursues this excess. 

Since we should state not only the truth, but also the cause of 
error-for this contributes towards producing conviction, since when 
a reasonable explanation is given of why the false view appears 
true, this tends to produce belief in the true view-therefore we 
must state why the bodily pleasures appear the more worthy of 
choice, (a) Firstly, then, it is because they expel pain; owing to the 
excesses of pain that men experience, they pursue excessive and in 
general bodily pleasure as being a cure for the pain. Now curative 



agencies produce intense f eeling-which is the reason why they are 
pursued-because they show up against the contrary pain. (Indeed 
pleasure is thought not to be good for these two reasons, as has 
been said, viz. that (a) some of them are activities belonging to a 
bad nature-either congenital, as in the case of a brute, or due to 
habit, i.e. those of bad men; while (b) others are meant to cure a 
defective nature, and it is better to be in a healthy state than to be 
getting into it, but these arise during the process of being made 
perfect and are therefore only incidentally good.) (b) Further, they 
are pursued because of their violence by those who cannot enjoy 
other pleasures. (At all events they go out of their way to 
manufacture thirsts somehow for themselves. When these are harmless, 
the practice is irreproachable; when they are hurtful, it is bad.) For 
they have nothing else to enjoy, and, besides, a neutral state is 
painful to many people because of their nature. For the animal 
nature is always in travail, as the students of natural science also 
testify, saying that sight and hearing are painful; but we have become 
used to this, as they maintain. Similarly, while, in youth, people 
are, owing to the growth that is going on, in a situation like that of 
drunken men, and youth is pleasant, on the other hand people of 
excitable nature always need relief; for even their body is ever in 
torment owing to its special composition, and they are always under 
the influence of violent desire; but pain is driven out both by the 
contrary pleasure, and by any chance pleasure if it be strong; and for 
these reasons they become self-indulgent and bad. But the pleasures 
that do not involve pains do not admit of excess; and these are 
among the things pleasant by nature and not incidentally. By things 
pleasant incidentally I mean those that act as cures (for because as a 
result people are cured, through some action of the part that 
remains healthy, for this reason the process is thought pleasant) ; 
by things naturally pleasant I mean those that stimulate the action of 
the healthy nature. 

There is no one thing that is always pleasant, because our nature is 
not simple but there is another element in us as well, inasmuch as 
we are perishable creatures, so that if the one element does 
something, this is unnatural to the other nature, and when the two 
elements are evenly balanced, what is done seems neither painful nor 
pleasant; for if the nature of anything were simple, the same action 
would always be most pleasant to it. This is why God always enjoys a 
single and simple pleasure; for there is not only an activity of 
movement but an activity of immobility, and pleasure is found more 
in rest than in movement. But 'change in all things is sweet', as 
the poet says, because of some vice; for as it is the vicious man that 
is changeable, so the nature that needs change is vicious; for it is 
not simple nor good. 

We have now discussed continence and incontinence, and pleasure 
and pain, both what each is and in what sense some of them are good 
and others bad; it remains to speak of friendship. 

BOOK VIII 
1 

AFTER what we have said, a discussion of friendship would 
naturally follow, since it is a virtue or implies virtue, and is 
besides most necessary with a view to living. For without friends no 
one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men 
and those in possession of office and of dominating power are 
thought to need friends most of all; for what is the use of such 
prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence, which is 
exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? Or 
how can prosperity be guarded and preserved without friends? The 
greater it is, the more exposed is it to risk. And in poverty and in 
other misfortunes men think friends are the only refuge. It helps 
the young, too, to keep from error; it aids older people by 
ministering to their needs and supplementing the activities that are 



failing from weakness; those in the prime of life it stimulates to 
noble actions- 'two going together ' -for with friends men are more 
able both to think and to act. Again, parent seems by nature to feel 
it for offspring and offspring for parent, not only among men but 
among birds and among most animals; it is felt mutually by members 
of the same race, and especially by men, whence we praise lovers of 
their fellowmen. We may even in our travels how near and dear every 
man is to every other. Friendship seems too to hold states together, 
and lawgivers to care more for it than for justice; for unanimity 
seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at most of 
all, and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men are 
friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they 
need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought 
to be a friendly quality. 

But it is not only necessary but also noble; for we praise those who 
love their friends, and it is thought to be a fine thing to have 
many friends; and again we think it is the same people that are good 
men and are friends . 

Not a few things about friendship are matters of debate. Some define 
it as a kind of likeness and say like people are friends, whence 
come the sayings 'like to like', 'birds of a feather flock 
together', and so on; others on the contrary say 'two of a trade never 
agree' . On this very question they inquire for deeper and more 
physical causes, Euripides saying that 'parched earth loves the 
rain, and stately heaven when filled with rain loves to fall to 
earth', and Heraclitus that 'it is what opposes that helps' and 
'from different tones comes the fairest tune' and 'all things are 
produced through strife'; while Empedocles, as well as others, 
expresses the opposite view that like aims at like. The physical 
problems we may leave alone (for they do not belong to the present 
inquiry) ; let us examine those which are human and involve character 
and feeling, e.g. whether friendship can arise between any two 
people or people cannot be friends if they are wicked, and whether 
there is one species of friendship or more than one. Those who think 
there is only one because it admits of degrees have relied on an 
inadequate indication; for even things different in species admit of 
degree. We have discussed this matter previously. 

2 

The kinds of friendship may perhaps be cleared up if we first come 
to know the object of love. For not everything seems to be loved but 
only the lovable, and this is good, pleasant, or useful; but it 
would seem to be that by which some good or pleasure is produced 
that is useful, so that it is the good and the useful that are lovable 
as ends. Do men love, then, the good, or what is good for them? 
These sometimes clash. So too with regard to the pleasant. Now it is 
thought that each loves what is good for himself, and that the good is 
without qualification lovable, and what is good for each man is 
lovable for him; but each man loves not what is good for him but 
what seems good. This however will make no difference; we shall just 
have to say that this is 'that which seems lovable' . Now there are 
three grounds on which people love; of the love of lifeless objects we 
do not use the word 'friendship'; for it is not mutual love, nor is 
there a wishing of good to the other (for it would surely be 
ridiculous to wish wine well; if one wishes anything for it, it is 
that it may keep, so that one may have it oneself) ; but to a friend we 
say we ought to wish what is good for his sake. But to those who 
thus wish good we ascribe only goodwill, if the wish is not 
reciprocated; goodwill when it is reciprocal being friendship. Or must 
we add 'when it is recognized'? For many people have goodwill to those 
whom they have not seen but judge to be good or useful; and one of 
these might return this feeling. These people seem to bear goodwill to 
each other; but how could one call them friends when they do not 
know their mutual feelings? To be friends, then, the must be 



mutually recognized as bearing goodwill and wishing well to each other 
for one of the aforesaid reasons. 

3 

Now these reasons differ from each other in kind; so, therefore, 
do the corresponding forms of love and friendship. There are therefore 
three kinds of friendship, equal in number to the things that are 
lovable; for with respect to each there is a mutual and recognized 
love, and those who love each other wish well to each other in that 
respect in which they love one another. Now those who love each 
other for their utility do not love each other for themselves but in 
virtue of some good which they get from each other. So too with 
those who love for the sake of pleasure; it is not for their character 
that men love ready-witted people, but because they find them 
pleasant. Therefore those who love for the sake of utility love for 
the sake of what is good for themselves, and those who love for the 
sake of pleasure do so for the sake of what is pleasant to themselves, 
and not in so far as the other is the person loved but in so far as he 
is useful or pleasant. And thus these friendships are only incidental; 
for it is not as being the man he is that the loved person is loved, 
but as providing some good or pleasure. Such friendships, then, are 
easily dissolved, if the parties do not remain like themselves; for if 
the one party is no longer pleasant or useful the other ceases to love 
him . 

Now the useful is not permanent but is always changing. Thus when 
the motive of the friendship is done away, the friendship is 
dissolved, inasmuch as it existed only for the ends in question. 
This kind of friendship seems to exist chiefly between old people (for 
at that age people pursue not the pleasant but the useful) and, of 
those who are in their prime or young, between those who pursue 
utility. And such people do not live much with each other either; 
for sometimes they do not even find each other pleasant; therefore 
they do not need such companionship unless they are useful to each 
other; for they are pleasant to each other only in so far as they 
rouse in each other hopes of something good to come. Among such 
friendships people also class the friendship of a host and guest. On 
the other hand the friendship of young people seems to aim at 
pleasure; for they live under the guidance of emotion, and pursue 
above all what is pleasant to themselves and what is immediately 
before them; but with increasing age their pleasures become different. 
This is why they quickly become friends and quickly cease to be so; 
their friendship changes with the object that is found pleasant, and 
such pleasure alters quickly. Young people are amorous too; for the 
greater part of the friendship of love depends on emotion and aims 
at pleasure; this is why they fall in love and quickly fall out of 
love, changing often within a single day. But these people do wish 
to spend their days and lives together; for it is thus that they 
attain the purpose of their friendship. 

Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and 
alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and 
they are good themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends for 
their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own 
nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as 
long as they are good-and goodness is an enduring thing. And each is 
good without qualification and to his friend, for the good are both 
good without qualification and useful to each other. So too they are 
pleasant; for the good are pleasant both without qualification and 
to each other, since to each his own activities and others like them 
are pleasurable, and the actions of the good are the same or like. And 
such a friendship is as might be expected permanent, since there 
meet in it all the qualities that friends should have. For all 
friendship is for the sake of good or of pleasure-good or pleasure 
either in the abstract or such as will be enjoyed by him who has the 
friendly feeling-and is based on a certain resemblance; and to a 



friendship of good men all the qualities we have named belong in 
virtue of the nature of the friends themselves; for in the case of 
this kind of friendship the other qualities also are alike in both 
friends, and that which is good without qualification is also 
without qualification pleasant, and these are the most lovable 
qualities. Love and friendship therefore are found most and in their 
best form between such men. 

But it is natural that such friendships should be infrequent; for 
such men are rare. Further, such friendship requires time and 
familiarity; as the proverb says, men cannot know each other till they 
have 'eaten salt together'; nor can they admit each other to 
friendship or be friends till each has been found lovable and been 
trusted by each. Those who quickly show the marks of friendship to 
each other wish to be friends, but are not friends unless they both 
are lovable and know the fact; for a wish for friendship may arise 
quickly, but friendship does not. 

4 

This kind of friendship, then, is perfect both in respect of 
duration and in all other respects, and in it each gets from each in 
all respects the same as, or something like what, he gives; which is 
what ought to happen between friends. Friendship for the sake of 
pleasure bears a resemblance to this kind; for good people too are 
pleasant to each other. So too does friendship for the sake of 
utility; for the good are also useful to each other. Among men of 
these inferior sorts too, friendships are most permanent when the 
friends get the same thing from each other (e.g. pleasure), and not 
only that but also from the same source, as happens between 
readywitted people, not as happens between lover and beloved. For 
these do not take pleasure in the same things, but the one in seeing 
the beloved and the other in receiving attentions from his lover; 
and when the bloom of youth is passing the friendship sometimes passes 
too (for the one finds no pleasure in the sight of the other, and 
the other gets no attentions from the first) ; but many lovers on the 
other hand are constant, if familiarity has led them to love each 
other's characters, these being alike. But those who exchange not 
pleasure but utility in their amour are both less truly friends and 
less constant. Those who are friends for the sake of utility part when 
the advantage is at an end; for they were lovers not of each other but 
of profit. 

For the sake of pleasure or utility, then, even bad men may be 
friends of each other, or good men of bad, or one who is neither 
good nor bad may be a friend to any sort of person, but for their 
own sake clearly only good men can be friends; for bad men do not 
delight in each other unless some advantage come of the relation. 

The friendship of the good too and this alone is proof against 
slander; for it is not easy to trust any one talk about a man who 
has long been tested by oneself; and it is among good men that trust 
and the feeling that 'he would never wrong me' and all the other 
things that are demanded in true friendship are found. In the other 
kinds of friendship, however, there is nothing to prevent these 
evils arising. For men apply the name of friends even to those whose 
motive is utility, in which sense states are said to be friendly 
(for the alliances of states seem to aim at advantage), and to those 
who love each other for the sake of pleasure, in which sense 
children are called friends. Therefore we too ought perhaps to call 
such people friends, and say that there are several kinds of 
f riendship-f irstly and in the proper sense that of good men qua 
good, and by analogy the other kinds; for it is in virtue of something 
good and something akin to what is found in true friendship that 
they are friends, since even the pleasant is good for the lovers of 
pleasure. But these two kinds of friendship are not often united, 
nor do the same people become friends for the sake of utility and of 
pleasure; for things that are only incidentally connected are not 



often coupled together. 

Friendship being divided into these kinds, bad men will be friends 
for the sake of pleasure or of utility, being in this respect like 
each other, but good men will be friends for their own sake, i.e. in 
virtue of their goodness. These, then, are friends without 
qualification; the others are friends incidentally and through a 
resemblance to these. 

5 

As in regard to the virtues some men are called good in respect of a 
state of character, others in respect of an activity, so too in the 
case of friendship; for those who live together delight in each 
other and confer benefits on each other, but those who are asleep or 
locally separated are not performing, but are disposed to perform, the 
activities of friendship; distance does not break off the friendship 
absolutely, but only the activity of it. But if the absence is 
lasting, it seems actually to make men forget their friendship; 
hence the saying 'out of sight, out of mind' . Neither old people nor 
sour people seem to make friends easily; for there is little that is 
pleasant in them, and no one can spend his days with one whose company 
is painful, or not pleasant, since nature seems above all to avoid the 
painful and to aim at the pleasant. Those, however, who approve of 
each other but do not live together seem to be well-disposed rather 
than actual friends. For there is nothing so characteristic of friends 
as living together (since while it people who are in need that 
desire benefits, even those who are supremely happy desire to spend 
their days together; for solitude suits such people least of all); but 
people cannot live together if they are not pleasant and do not 
enjoy the same things, as friends who are companions seem to do. 

The truest friendship, then, is that of the good, as we have 
frequently said; for that which is without qualification good or 
pleasant seems to be lovable and desirable, and for each person that 
which is good or pleasant to him; and the good man is lovable and 
desirable to the good man for both these reasons. Now it looks as if 
love were a feeling, friendship a state of character; for love may 
be felt just as much towards lifeless things, but mutual love involves 
choice and choice springs from a state of character; and men wish well 
to those whom they love, for their sake, not as a result of feeling 
but as a result of a state of character. And in loving a friend men 
love what is good for themselves; for the good man in becoming a 
friend becomes a good to his friend. Each, then, both loves what is 
good for himself, and makes an equal return in goodwill and in 
pleasantness; for friendship is said to be equality, and both of these 
are found most in the friendship of the good. 

6 

Between sour and elderly people friendship arises less readily, 
inasmuch as they are less good-tempered and enjoy companionship 
less; for these are thou to be the greatest marks of friendship 
productive of it. This is why, while men become friends quickly, old 
men do not; it is because men do not become friends with those in whom 
they do not delight; and similarly sour people do not quickly make 
friends either. But such men may bear goodwill to each other; for they 
wish one another well and aid one another in need; but they are hardly 
friends because they do not spend their days together nor delight in 
each other, and these are thought the greatest marks of friendship. 

One cannot be a friend to many people in the sense of having 
friendship of the perfect type with them, just as one cannot be in 
love with many people at once (for love is a sort of excess of 
feeling, and it is the nature of such only to be felt towards one 
person) ; and it is not easy for many people at the same time to please 
the same person very greatly, or perhaps even to be good in his 
eyes. One must, too, acquire some experience of the other person and 
become familiar with him, and that is very hard. But with a view to 



utility or pleasure it is possible that many people should please one; 
for many people are useful or pleasant, and these services take little 
time . 

Of these two kinds that which is for the sake of pleasure is the 
more like friendship, when both parties get the same things from 
each other and delight in each other or in the things, as in the 
friendships of the young; for generosity is more found in such 
friendships. Friendship based on utility is for the commercially 
minded. People who are supremely happy, too, have no need of useful 
friends, but do need pleasant friends; for they wish to live with some 
one and, though they can endure for a short time what is painful, no 
one could put up with it continuously, nor even with the Good itself 
if it were painful to him; this is why they look out for friends who 
are pleasant. Perhaps they should look out for friends who, being 
pleasant, are also good, and good for them too; for so they will 
have all the characteristics that friends should have. 

People in positions of authority seem to have friends who fall 
into distinct classes; some people are useful to them and others are 
pleasant, but the same people are rarely both; for they seek neither 
those whose pleasantness is accompanied by virtue nor those whose 
utility is with a view to noble objects, but in their desire for 
pleasure they seek for ready-witted people, and their other friends 
they choose as being clever at doing what they are told, and these 
characteristics are rarely combined. Now we have said that the good 
man is at the same time pleasant and useful; but such a man does not 
become the friend of one who surpasses him in station, unless he is 
surpassed also in virtue; if this is not so, he does not establish 
equality by being proportionally exceeded in both respects. But people 
who surpass him in both respects are not so easy to find. 

However that may be, the aforesaid friendships involve equality; for 
the friends get the same things from one another and wish the same 
things for one another, or exchange one thing for another, e.g. 
pleasure for utility; we have said, however, that they are both less 
truly friendships and less permanent. 

But it is from their likeness and their unlikeness to the same thing 
that they are thought both to be and not to be friendships. It is by 
their likeness to the friendship of virtue that they seem to be 
friendships (for one of them involves pleasure and the other 
utility, and these characteristics belong to the friendship of 
virtue as well); while it is because the friendship of virtue is proof 
against slander and permanent, while these quickly change (besides 
differing from the former in many other respects), that they appear 
not to be friendships; i.e. it is because of their unlikeness to the 
friendship of virtue. 

7 

But there is another kind of friendship, viz. that which involves an 
inequality between the parties, e.g. that of father to son and in 
general of elder to younger, that of man to wife and in general that 
of ruler to subject. And these friendships differ also from each 
other; for it is not the same that exists between parents and children 
and between rulers and subjects, nor is even that of father to son the 
same as that of son to father, nor that of husband to wife the same as 
that of wife to husband. For the virtue and the function of each of 
these is different, and so are the reasons for which they love; the 
love and the friendship are therefore different also. Each party, 
then, neither gets the same from the other, nor ought to seek it; 
but when children render to parents what they ought to render to those 
who brought them into the world, and parents render what they should 
to their children, the friendship of such persons will be abiding 
and excellent. In all friendships implying inequality the love also 
should be proportional, i.e. the better should be more loved than he 
loves, and so should the more useful, and similarly in each of the 
other cases; for when the love is in proportion to the merit of the 



parties, then in a sense arises equality, which is certainly held to 
be characteristic of friendship. 

But equality does not seem to take the same form in acts of 
justice and in friendship; for in acts of justice what is equal in the 
primary sense is that which is in proportion to merit, while 
quantitative equality is secondary, but in friendship quantitative 
equality is primary and proportion to merit secondary. This becomes 
clear if there is a great interval in respect of virtue or vice or 
wealth or anything else between the parties; for then they are no 
longer friends, and do not even expect to be so. And this is most 
manifest in the case of the gods; for they surpass us most 
decisively in all good things. But it is clear also in the case of 
kings; for with them, too, men who are much their inferiors do not 
expect to be friends; nor do men of no account expect to be friends 
with the best or wisest men. In such cases it is not possible to 
define exactly up to what point friends can remain friends; for much 
can be taken away and friendship remain, but when one party is removed 
to a great distance, as God is, the possibility of friendship 
ceases. This is in fact the origin of the question whether friends 
really wish for their friends the greatest goods, e.g. that of being 
gods; since in that case their friends will no longer be friends to 
them, and therefore will not be good things for them (for friends 
are good things) . The answer is that if we were right in saying that 
friend wishes good to friend for his sake, his friend must remain 
the sort of being he is, whatever that may be; therefore it is for him 
oily so long as he remains a man that he will wish the greatest goods. 
But perhaps not all the greatest goods; for it is for himself most 
of all that each man wishes what is good. 



Most people seem, owing to ambition, to wish to be loved rather than 
to love; which is why most men love flattery; for the flatterer is a 
friend in an inferior position, or pretends to be such and to love 
more than he is loved; and being loved seems to be akin to being 
honoured, and this is what most people aim at. But it seems to be 
not for its own sake that people choose honour, but incidentally. 
For most people enjoy being honoured by those in positions of 
authority because of their hopes (for they think that if they want 
anything they will get it from them; and therefore they delight in 
honour as a token of favour to come) ; while those who desire honour 
from good men, and men who know, are aiming at confirming their own 
opinion of themselves; they delight in honour, therefore, because they 
believe in their own goodness on the strength of the judgement of 
those who speak about them. In being loved, on the other hand, 
people delight for its own sake; whence it would seem to be better 
than being honoured, and friendship to be desirable in itself. But 
it seems to lie in loving rather than in being loved, as is 
indicated by the delight mothers take in loving; for some mothers hand 
over their children to be brought up, and so long as they know their 
fate they love them and do not seek to be loved in return (if they 
cannot have both) , but seem to be satisfied if they see them 
prospering; and they themselves love their children even if these 
owing to their ignorance give them nothing of a mother's due. Now 
since friendship depends more on loving, and it is those who love 
their friends that are praised, loving seems to be the 
characteristic virtue of friends, so that it is only those in whom 
this is found in due measure that are lasting friends, and only 
their friendship that endures. 

It is in this way more than any other that even unequals can be 
friends; they can be equalized. Now equality and likeness are 
friendship, and especially the likeness of those who are like in 
virtue; for being steadfast in themselves they hold fast to each 
other, and neither ask nor give base services, but (one may say) 
even prevent them; for it is characteristic of good men neither to 



go wrong themselves nor to let their friends do so. But wicked men 
have no steadfastness (for they do not remain even like to 
themselves), but become friends for a short time because they 
delight in each other's wickedness. Friends who are useful or pleasant 
last longer; i.e. as long as they provide each other with enjoyments 
or advantages. Friendship for utility's sake seems to be that which 
most easily exists between contraries, e.g. between poor and rich, 
between ignorant and learned; for what a man actually lacks he aims 
at, and one gives something else in return. But under this head, 
too, might bring lover and beloved, beautiful and ugly. This is why 
lovers sometimes seem ridiculous, when they demand to be loved as they 
love; if they are equally lovable their claim can perhaps be 
justified, but when they have nothing lovable about them it is 
ridiculous. Perhaps, however, contrary does not even aim at contrary 
by its own nature, but only incidentally, the desire being for what is 
intermediate; for that is what is good, e.g. it is good for the dry 
not to become wet but to come to the intermediate state, and similarly 
with the hot and in all other cases. These subjects we may dismiss; 
for they are indeed somewhat foreign to our inquiry. 

9 

Friendship and justice seem, as we have said at the outset of our 
discussion, to be concerned with the same objects and exhibited 
between the same persons. For in every community there is thought to 
be some form of justice, and friendship too; at least men address as 
friends their fellow-voyagers and f ellowsoldiers, and so too those 
associated with them in any other kind of community. And the extent of 
their association is the extent of their friendship, as it is the 
extent to which justice exists between them. And the proverb 'what 
friends have is common property' expresses the truth; for friendship 
depends on community. Now brothers and comrades have all things in 
common, but the others to whom we have referred have definite things 
in common-some more things, others fewer; for of friendships, too, 
some are more and others less truly friendships. And the claims of 
justice differ too; the duties of parents to children, and those of 
brothers to each other are not the same, nor those of comrades and 
those of fellow-citizens, and so, too, with the other kinds of 
friendship. There is a difference, therefore, also between the acts 
that are unjust towards each of these classes of associates, and the 
injustice increases by being exhibited towards those who are friends 
in a fuller sense; e.g. it is a more terrible thing to defraud a 
comrade than a fellow-citizen, more terrible not to help a brother 
than a stranger, and more terrible to wound a father than any one 
else. And the demands of justice also seem to increase with the 
intensity of the friendship, which implies that friendship and justice 
exist between the same persons and have an equal extension. 

Now all forms of community are like parts of the political 
community; for men journey together with a view to some particular 
advantage, and to provide something that they need for the purposes of 
life; and it is for the sake of advantage that the political community 
too seems both to have come together originally and to endure, for 
this is what legislators aim at, and they call just that which is to 
the common advantage. Now the other communities aim at advantage bit 
by bit, e.g. sailors at what is advantageous on a voyage with a view 
to making money or something of the kind, fellow-soldiers at what is 
advantageous in war, whether it is wealth or victory or the taking 
of a city that they seek, and members of tribes and demes act 
similarly (Some communities seem to arise for the sake or pleasure, 
viz. religious guilds and social clubs; for these exist respectively 
for the sake of offering sacrifice and of companionship. But all these 
seem to fall under the political community; for it aims not at present 
advantage but at what is advantageous for life as a whole) , offering 
sacrifices and arranging gatherings for the purpose, and assigning 
honours to the gods, and providing pleasant relaxations for 



themselves. For the ancient sacrifices and gatherings seem to take 
place after the harvest as a sort of firstfruits, because it was at 
these seasons that people had most leisure. All the communities, then, 
seem to be parts of the political community; and the particular 
kinds friendship will correspond to the particular kinds of community. 

10 

There are three kinds of constitution, and an equal number of 
deviation-f orms--perversions, as it were, of them. The constitutions 
are monarchy, aristocracy, and thirdly that which is based on a 
property qualification, which it seems appropriate to call timocratic, 
though most people are wont to call it polity. The best of these is 
monarchy, the worst timocracy. The deviation from monarchy is 
tyrany; for both are forms of one-man rule, but there is the 
greatest difference between them; the tyrant looks to his own 
advantage, the king to that of his subjects. For a man is not a king 
unless he is sufficient to himself and excels his subjects in all good 
things; and such a man needs nothing further; therefore he will not 
look to his own interests but to those of his subjects; for a king who 
is not like that would be a mere titular king. Now tyranny is the very 
contrary of this; the tyrant pursues his own good. And it is clearer 
in the case of tyranny that it is the worst deviation-form; but it 
is the contrary of the best that is worst. Monarchy passes over into 
tyranny; for tyranny is the evil form of one-man rule and the bad king 
becomes a tyrant. Aristocracy passes over into oligarchy by the 
badness of the rulers, who distribute contrary to equity what 
belongs to the city-all or most of the good things to themselves, 
and office always to the same people, paying most regard to wealth; 
thus the rulers are few and are bad men instead of the most worthy. 
Timocracy passes over into democracy; for these are coterminous, since 
it is the ideal even of timocracy to be the rule of the majority, 
and all who have the property qualification count as equal. 
Democracy is the least bad of the deviations; for in its case the form 
of constitution is but a slight deviation. These then are the 
changes to which constitutions are most subject; for these are the 
smallest and easiest transitions. 

One may find resemblances to the constitutions and, as it were, 
patterns of them even in households. For the association of a father 
with his sons bears the form of monarchy, since the father cares for 
his children; and this is why Homer calls Zeus 'father'; it is the 
ideal of monarchy to be paternal rule. But among the Persians the rule 
of the father is tyrannical; they use their sons as slaves. Tyrannical 
too is the rule of a master over slaves; for it is the advantage of 
the master that is brought about in it. Now this seems to be a correct 
form of government, but the Persian type is perverted; for the modes 
of rule appropriate to different relations are diverse. The 
association of man and wife seems to be aristocratic; for the man 
rules in accordance with his worth, and in those matters in which a 
man should rule, but the matters that befit a woman he hands over to 
her. If the man rules in everything the relation passes over into 
oligarchy; for in doing so he is not acting in accordance with their 
respective worth, and not ruling in virtue of his superiority. 
Sometimes, however, women rule, because they are heiresses; so their 
rule is not in virtue of excellence but due to wealth and power, as in 
oligarchies. The association of brothers is like timocracy; for they 
are equal, except in so far as they differ in age; hence if they 
differ much in age, the friendship is no longer of the fraternal type. 
Democracy is found chiefly in masterless dwellings (for here every one 
is on an equality) , and in those in which the ruler is weak and 
every one has licence to do as he pleases. 

11 

Each of the constitutions may be seen to involve friendship just 
in so far as it involves justice. The friendship between a king and 



his subjects depends on an excess of benefits conferred; for he 
confers benefits on his subjects if being a good man he cares for them 
with a view to their well-being, as a shepherd does for his sheep 
(whence Homer called Agamemnon 'shepherd of the peoples') . Such too is 
the friendship of a father, though this exceeds the other in the 
greatness of the benefits conferred; for he is responsible for the 
existence of his children, which is thought the greatest good, and for 
their nurture and upbringing. 

These things are ascribed to ancestors as well. Further, by nature a 
father tends to rule over his sons, ancestors over descendants, a king 
over his subjects. These friendships imply superiority of one party 
over the other, which is why ancestors are honoured. The justice 
therefore that exists between persons so related is not the same on 
both sides but is in every case proportioned to merit; for that is 
true of the friendship as well. The friendship of man and wife, again, 
is the same that is found in an aristocracy; for it is in accordance 
with virtue the better gets more of what is good, and each gets what 
befits him; and so, too, with the justice in these relations. The 
friendship of brothers is like that of comrades; for they are equal 
and of like age, and such persons are for the most part like in 
their feelings and their character. Like this, too, is the 
friendship appropriate to timocratic government; for in such a 
constitution the ideal is for the citizens to be equal and fair; 
therefore rule is taken in turn, and on equal terms; and the 
friendship appropriate here will correspond. 

But in the deviation-forms, as justice hardly exists, so too does 
friendship. It exists least in the worst form; in tyranny there is 
little or no friendship. For where there is nothing common to ruler 
and ruled, there is not friendship either, since there is not justice; 
e.g. between craftsman and tool, soul and body, master and slave; 
the latter in each case is benefited by that which uses it, but 
there is no friendship nor justice towards lifeless things. But 
neither is there friendship towards a horse or an ox, nor to a slave 
qua slave. For there is nothing common to the two parties; the slave 
is a living tool and the tool a lifeless slave. Qua slave then, one 
cannot be friends with him. But qua man one can; for there seems to be 
some justice between any man and any other who can share in a system 
of law or be a party to an agreement; therefore there can also be 
friendship with him in so far as he is a man. Therefore while in 
tyrannies friendship and justice hardly exist, in democracies they 
exist more fully; for where the citizens are equal they have much in 
common . 

12 

Every form of friendship, then, involves association, as has been 
said. One might, however, mark off from the rest both the friendship 
of kindred and that of comrades. Those of fellow-citizens, 
fellow-tribesmen, fellow-voyagers, and the like are more like mere 
friendships of association; for they seem to rest on a sort of 
compact. With them we might class the friendship of host and guest. 
The friendship of kinsmen itself, while it seems to be of many 
kinds, appears to depend in every case on parental friendship; for 
parents love their children as being a part of themselves, and 
children their parents as being something originating from them. Now 
(1) arents know their offspring better than there children know that 
they are their children, and (2) the originator feels his offspring to 
be his own more than the offspring do their begetter; for the 
product belongs to the producer (e.g. a tooth or hair or anything else 
to him whose it is), but the producer does not belong to the 
product, or belongs in a less degree. And (3) the length of time 
produces the same result; parents love their children as soon as these 
are born, but children love their parents only after time has 
elapsed and they have acquired understanding or the power of 
discrimination by the senses. From these considerations it is also 



plain why mothers love more than fathers do. Parents, then, love their 
children as themselves (for their issue are by virtue of their 
separate existence a sort of other selves), while children love 
their parents as being born of them, and brothers love each other as 
being born of the same parents; for their identity with them makes 
them identical with each other (which is the reason why people talk of 
'the same blood', 'the same stock', and so on) . They are, therefore, 
in a sense the same thing, though in separate individuals. Two 
things that contribute greatly to friendship are a common upbringing 
and similarity of age; for 'two of an age take to each other', and 
people brought up together tend to be comrades; whence the 
friendship of brothers is akin to that of comrades. And cousins and 
other kinsmen are bound up together by derivation from brothers, 
viz. by being derived from the same parents. They come to be closer 
together or farther apart by virtue of the nearness or distance of the 
original ancestor. 

The friendship of children to parents, and of men to gods, is a 
relation to them as to something good and superior; for they have 
conferred the greatest benefits, since they are the causes of their 
being and of their nourishment, and of their education from their 
birth; and this kind of friendship possesses pleasantness and 
utility also, more than that of strangers, inasmuch as their life is 
lived more in common. The friendship of brothers has the 
characteristics found in that of comrades (and especially when these 
are good) , and in general between people who are like each other, 
inasmuch as they belong more to each other and start with a love for 
each other from their very birth, and inasmuch as those born of the 
same parents and brought up together and similarly educated are more 
akin in character; and the test of time has been applied most fully 
and convincingly in their case. 

Between other kinsmen friendly relations are found in due 
proportion. Between man and wife friendship seems to exist by 
nature; for man is naturally inclined to form couples-even more than 
to form cities, inasmuch as the household is earlier and more 
necessary than the city, and reproduction is more common to man with 
the animals. With the other animals the union extends only to this 
point, but human beings live together not only for the sake of 
reproduction but also for the various purposes of life; for from the 
start the functions are divided, and those of man and woman are 
different; so they help each other by throwing their peculiar gifts 
into the common stock. It is for these reasons that both utility and 
pleasure seem to be found in this kind of friendship. But this 
friendship may be based also on virtue, if the parties are good; for 
each has its own virtue and they will delight in the fact. And 
children seem to be a bond of union (which is the reason why childless 
people part more easily) ; for children are a good common to both and 
what is common holds them together. 

How man and wife and in general friend and friend ought mutually 
to behave seems to be the same question as how it is just for them 
to behave; for a man does not seem to have the same duties to a 
friend, a stranger, a comrade, and a schoolfellow. 

13 

There are three kinds of friendship, as we said at the outset of our 
inquiry, and in respect of each some are friends on an equality and 
others by virtue of a superiority (for not only can equally good men 
become friends but a better man can make friends with a worse, and 
similarly in friendships of pleasure or utility the friends may be 
equal or unequal in the benefits they confer) . This being so, equals 
must effect the required equalization on a basis of equality in love 
and in all other respects, while unequals must render what is in 
proportion to their superiority or inferiority. Complaints and 
reproaches arise either only or chiefly in the friendship of 
utility, and this is only to be expected. For those who are friends on 



the ground of virtue are anxious to do well by each other (since 
that is a mark of virtue and of friendship) , and between men who are 
emulating each other in this there cannot be complaints or quarrels; 
no one is offended by a man who loves him and does well by him-if he 
is a person of nice feeling he takes his revenge by doing well by 
the other. And the man who excels the other in the services he renders 
will not complain of his friend, since he gets what he aims at; for 
each man desires what is good. Nor do complaints arise much even in 
friendships of pleasure; for both get at the same time what they 
desire, if they enjoy spending their time together; and even a man who 
complained of another for not affording him pleasure would seem 
ridiculous, since it is in his power not to spend his days with him. 

But the friendship of utility is full of complaints; for as they use 
each other for their own interests they always want to get the 
better of the bargain, and think they have got less than they 
should, and blame their partners because they do not get all they 
'want and deserve'; and those who do well by others cannot help them 
as much as those whom they benefit want. 

Now it seems that, as justice is of two kinds, one unwritten and the 
other legal, one kind of friendship of utility is moral and the 
other legal. And so complaints arise most of all when men do not 
dissolve the relation in the spirit of the same type of friendship 
in which they contracted it. The legal type is that which is on 
fixed terms; its purely commercial variety is on the basis of 
immediate payment, while the more liberal variety allows time but 
stipulates for a definite quid pro quo. In this variety the debt is 
clear and not ambiguous, but in the postponement it contains an 
element of friendliness; and so some states do not allow suits arising 
out of such agreements, but think men who have bargained on a basis of 
credit ought to accept the consequences. The moral type is not on 
fixed terms; it makes a gift, or does whatever it does, as to a 
friend; but one expects to receive as much or more, as having not 
given but lent; and if a man is worse off when the relation is 
dissolved than he was when it was contracted he will complain. This 
happens because all or most men, while they wish for what is noble, 
choose what is advantageous; now it is noble to do well by another 
without a view to repayment, but it is the receiving of benefits 
that is advantageous. Therefore if we can we should return the 
equivalent of what we have received (for we must not make a man our 
friend against his will; we must recognize that we were mistaken at 
the first and took a benefit from a person we should not have taken it 
from-since it was not from a friend, nor from one who did it just 
for the sake of acting so-and we must settle up just as if we had been 
benefited on fixed terms) . Indeed, one would agree to repay if one 
could (if one could not, even the giver would not have expected one to 
do so) ; therefore if it is possible we must repay. But at the outset 
we must consider the man by whom we are being benefited and on what 
terms he is acting, in order that we may accept the benefit on these 
terms, or else decline it. 

It is disputable whether we ought to measure a service by its 
utility to the receiver and make the return with a view to that, or by 
the benevolence of the giver. For those who have received say they 
have received from their benefactors what meant little to the latter 
and what they might have got from others-minimizing the service; while 
the givers, on the contrary, say it was the biggest thing they had, 
and what could not have been got from others, and that it was given in 
times of danger or similar need. Now if the friendship is one that 
aims at utility, surely the advantage to the receiver is the 
measure. For it is he that asks for the service, and the other man 
helps him on the assumption that he will receive the equivalent; so 
the assistance has been precisely as great as the advantage to the 
receiver, and therefore he must return as much as he has received, 
or even more (for that would be nobler) . In friendships based on 
virtue on the other hand, complaints do not arise, but the purpose 



of the doer is a sort of measure; for in purpose lies the essential 
element of virtue and character. 

14 

Differences arise also in friendships based on superiority; for each 
expects to get more out of them, but when this happens the 
friendship is dissolved. Not only does the better man think he ought 
to get more, since more should be assigned to a good man, but the more 
useful similarly expects this; they say a useless man should not get 
as much as they should, since it becomes an act of public service 
and not a friendship if the proceeds of the friendship do not answer 
to the worth of the benefits conferred. For they think that, as in a 
commercial partnership those who put more in get more out, so it 
should be in friendship. But the man who is in a state of need and 
inferiority makes the opposite claim; they think it is the part of a 
good friend to help those who are in need; what, they say, is the 
use of being the friend of a good man or a powerful man, if one is 
to get nothing out of it? 

At all events it seems that each party is justified in his claim, 
and that each should get more out of the friendship than the other-not 
more of the same thing, however, but the superior more honour and 
the inferior more gain; for honour is the prize of virtue and of 
beneficence, while gain is the assistance required by inferiority. 

It seems to be so in constitutional arrangements also; the man who 
contributes nothing good to the common stock is not honoured; for what 
belongs to the public is given to the man who benefits the public, and 
honour does belong to the public. It is not possible to get wealth 
from the common stock and at the same time honour. For no one puts 
up with the smaller share in all things; therefore to the man who 
loses in wealth they assign honour and to the man who is willing to be 
paid, wealth, since the proportion to merit equalizes the parties 
and preserves the friendship, as we have said. This then is also the 
way in which we should associate with unequals; the man who is 
benefited in respect of wealth or virtue must give honour in return, 
repaying what he can. For friendship asks a man to do what he can, not 
what is proportional to the merits of the case; since that cannot 
always be done, e.g. in honours paid to the gods or to parents; for no 
one could ever return to them the equivalent of what he gets, but 
the man who serves them to the utmost of his power is thought to be 
a good man. This is why it would not seem open to a man to disown 
his father (though a father may disown his son) ; being in debt, he 
should repay, but there is nothing by doing which a son will have done 
the equivalent of what he has received, so that he is always in 
debt. But creditors can remit a debt; and a father can therefore do so 
too. At the same time it is thought that presumably no one would 
repudiate a son who was not far gone in wickedness; for apart from the 
natural friendship of father and son it is human nature not to 
reject a son's assistance. But the son, if he is wicked, will 
naturally avoid aiding his father, or not be zealous about it; for 
most people wish to get benefits, but avoid doing them, as a thing 
unprofitable . -So much for these questions. 

BOOK IX 
1 

IN all friendships between dissimilars it is, as we have said, 
proportion that equalizes the parties and preserves the friendship; 
e.g. in the political form of friendship the shoemaker gets a return 
for his shoes in proportion to his worth, and the weaver and all other 
craftsmen do the same. Now here a common measure has been provided 
in the form of money, and therefore everything is referred to this and 
measured by this; but in the friendship of lovers sometimes the 
lover complains that his excess of love is not met by love in return 
though perhaps there is nothing lovable about him) , while often the 
beloved complains that the lover who formerly promised everything 



now performs nothing. Such incidents happen when the lover loves the 
beloved for the sake of pleasure while the beloved loves the lover for 
the sake of utility, and they do not both possess the qualities 
expected of them. If these be the objects of the friendship it is 
dissolved when they do not get the things that formed the motives of 
their love; for each did not love the other person himself but the 
qualities he had, and these were not enduring; that is why the 
friendships also are transient. But the love of characters, as has 
been said, endures because it is self-dependent. Differences arise 
when what they get is something different and not what they desire; 
for it is like getting nothing at all when we do not get what we aim 
at; compare the story of the person who made promises to a 
lyre-player, promising him the more, the better he sang, but in the 
morning, when the other demanded the fulfilment of his promises, 
said that he had given pleasure for pleasure. Now if this had been 
what each wanted, all would have been well; but if the one wanted 
enjoyment but the other gain, and the one has what he wants while 
the other has not, the terms of the association will not have been 
properly fulfilled; for what each in fact wants is what he attends to, 
and it is for the sake of that that that he will give what he has. 

But who is to fix the worth of the service; he who makes the 
sacrifice or he who has got the advantage? At any rate the other seems 
to leave it to him. This is what they say Protagoras used to do; 
whenever he taught anything whatsoever, he bade the learner assess the 
value of the knowledge, and accepted the amount so fixed. But in 
such matters some men approve of the saying 'let a man have his 
fixed reward' . Those who get the money first and then do none of the 
things they said they would, owing to the extravagance of their 
promises, naturally find themselves the objects of complaint; for they 
do not fulfil what they agreed to. The sophists are perhaps 
compelled to do this because no one would give money for the things 
they do know. These people then, if they do not do what they have been 
paid for, are naturally made the objects of complaint. 

But where there is no contract of service, those who give up 
something for the sake of the other party cannot (as we have said) 
be complained of (for that is the nature of the friendship of virtue), 
and the return to them must be made on the basis of their purpose (for 
it is purpose that is the characteristic thing in a friend and in 
virtue) . And so too, it seems, should one make a return to those 
with whom one has studied philosophy; for their worth cannot be 
measured against money, and they can get no honour which will 
balance their services, but still it is perhaps enough, as it is 
with the gods and with one's parents, to give them what one can. 

If the gift was not of this sort, but was made with a view to a 
return, it is no doubt preferable that the return made should be one 
that seems fair to both parties, but if this cannot be achieved, it 
would seem not only necessary that the person who gets the first 
service should fix the reward, but also just; for if the other gets in 
return the equivalent of the advantage the beneficiary has received, 
or the price lie would have paid for the pleasure, he will have got 
what is fair as from the other. 

We see this happening too with things put up for sale, and in some 
places there are laws providing that no actions shall arise out of 
voluntary contracts, on the assumption that one should settle with a 
person to whom one has given credit, in the spirit in which one 
bargained with him. The law holds that it is more just that the person 
to whom credit was given should fix the terms than that the person who 
gave credit should do so. For most things are not assessed at the same 
value by those who have them and those who want them; each class 
values highly what is its own and what it is offering; yet the 
return is made on the terms fixed by the receiver. But no doubt the 
receiver should assess a thing not at what it seems worth when he 
has it, but at what he assessed it at before he had it. 

2 



A further problem is set by such questions as, whether one should in 
all things give the preference to one's father and obey him, or 
whether when one is ill one should trust a doctor, and when one has to 
elect a general should elect a man of military skill; and similarly 
whether one should render a service by preference to a friend or to 
a good man, and should show gratitude to a benefactor or oblige a 
friend, if one cannot do both. 

All such questions are hard, are they not, to decide with precision? 
For they admit of many variations of all sorts in respect both of 
the magnitude of the service and of its nobility necessity. But that 
we should not give the preference in all things to the same person 
is plain enough; and we must for the most part return benefits 
rather than oblige friends, as we must pay back a loan to a creditor 
rather than make one to a friend. But perhaps even this is not 
always true; e.g. should a man who has been ransomed out of the 
hands of brigands ransom his ransomer in return, whoever he may be (or 
pay him if he has not been captured but demands payment) or should 
he ransom his father? It would seem that he should ransom his father 
in preference even to himself. As we have said, then, generally the 
debt should be paid, but if the gift is exceedingly noble or 
exceedingly necessary, one should defer to these considerations. For 
sometimes it is not even fair to return the equivalent of what one has 
received, when the one man has done a service to one whom he knows 
to be good, while the other makes a return to one whom he believes 
to be bad. For that matter, one should sometimes not lend in return to 
one who has lent to oneself; for the one person lent to a good man, 
expecting to recover his loan, while the other has no hope of 
recovering from one who is believed to be bad. Therefore if the 
facts really are so, the demand is not fair; and if they are not, 
but people think they are, they would be held to be doing nothing 
strange in refusing. As we have often pointed out, then, discussions 
about feelings and actions have just as much definiteness as their 
subject-matter . 

That we should not make the same return to every one, nor give a 
father the preference in everything, as one does not sacrifice 
everything to Zeus, is plain enough; but since we ought to render 
different things to parents, brothers, comrades, and benefactors, we 
ought to render to each class what is appropriate and becoming. And 
this is what people seem in fact to do; to marriages they invite their 
kinsfolk; for these have a part in the family and therefore in the 
doings that affect the family; and at funerals also they think that 
kinsfolk, before all others, should meet, for the same reason. And 
it would be thought that in the matter of food we should help our 
parents before all others, since we owe our own nourishment to them, 
and it is more honourable to help in this respect the authors of our 
being even before ourselves; and honour too one should give to one's 
parents as one does to the gods, but not any and every honour; for 
that matter one should not give the same honour to one's father and 
one's mother, nor again should one give them the honour due to a 
philosopher or to a general, but the honour due to a father, or 
again to a mother. To all older persons, too, one should give honour 
appropriate to their age, by rising to receive them and finding 
seats for them and so on; while to comrades and brothers one should 
allow freedom of speech and common use of all things. To kinsmen, too, 
and fellow-tribesmen and fellow-citizens and to every other class 
one should always try to assign what is appropriate, and to compare 
the claims of each class with respect to nearness of relation and to 
virtue or usefulness. The comparison is easier when the persons belong 
to the same class, and more laborious when they are different. Yet 
we must not on that account shrink from the task, but decide the 
question as best we can. 

3 



Another question that arises is whether friendships should or should 
not be broken off when the other party does not remain the same. 
Perhaps we may say that there is nothing strange in breaking off a 
friendship based on utility or pleasure, when our friends no longer 
have these attributes. For it was of these attributes that we were the 
friends; and when these have failed it is reasonable to love no 
longer. But one might complain of another if, when he loved us for our 
usefulness or pleasantness, he pretended to love us for our character. 
For, as we said at the outset, most differences arise between 
friends when they are not friends in the spirit in which they think 
they are. So when a man has deceived himself and has thought he was 
being loved for his character, when the other person was doing nothing 
of the kind, he must blame himself; when he has been deceived by the 
pretences of the other person, it is just that he should complain 
against his deceiver; he will complain with more justice than one does 
against people who counterfeit the currency, inasmuch as the 
wrongdoing is concerned with something more valuable. 

But if one accepts another man as good, and he turns out badly and 
is seen to do so, must one still love him? Surely it is impossible, 
since not everything can be loved, but only what is good. What is evil 
neither can nor should be loved; for it is not one's duty to be a 
lover of evil, nor to become like what is bad; and we have said that 
like is dear like. Must the friendship, then, be forthwith broken off? 
Or is this not so in all cases, but only when one's friends are 
incurable in their wickedness? If they are capable of being reformed 
one should rather come to the assistance of their character or their 
property, inasmuch as this is better and more characteristic of 
friendship. But a man who breaks off such a friendship would seem to 
be doing nothing strange; for it was not to a man of this sort that he 
was a friend; when his friend has changed, therefore, and he is unable 
to save him, he gives him up. 

But if one friend remained the same while the other became better 
and far outstripped him in virtue, should the latter treat the 
former as a friend? Surely he cannot. When the interval is great 
this becomes most plain, e.g. in the case of childish friendships; 
if one friend remained a child in intellect while the other became a 
fully developed man, how could they be friends when they neither 
approved of the same things nor delighted in and were pained by the 
same things? For not even with regard to each other will their 
tastes agree, and without this (as we saw) they cannot be friends; for 
they cannot live together. But we have discussed these matters. 

Should he, then, behave no otherwise towards him than he would if he 
had never been his friend? Surely he should keep a remembrance of 
their former intimacy, and as we think we ought to oblige friends 
rather than strangers, so to those who have been our friends we 
ought to make some allowance for our former friendship, when the 
breach has not been due to excess of wickedness. 

4 

Friendly relations with one's neighbours, and the marks by which 
friendships are defined, seem to have proceeded from a man's relations 
to himself. For (1) we define a friend as one who wishes and does what 
is good, or seems so, for the sake of his friend, or (2) as one who 
wishes his friend to exist and live, for his sake; which mothers do to 
their children, and friends do who have come into conflict. And (3) 
others define him as one who lives with and (4) has the same tastes as 
another, or (5) one who grieves and rejoices with his friend; and this 
too is found in mothers most of all. It is by some one of these 
characterstics that friendship too is defined. 

Now each of these is true of the good man's relation to himself (and 
of all other men in so far as they think themselves good; virtue and 
the good man seem, as has been said, to be the measure of every 
class of things) . For his opinions are harmonious, and he desires 
the same things with all his soul; and therefore he wishes for himself 



what is good and what seems so, and does it (for it is 
characteristic of the good man to work out the good) , and does so 
for his own sake (for he does it for the sake of the intellectual 
element in him, which is thought to be the man himself) ; and he wishes 
himself to live and be preserved, and especially the element by virtue 
of which he thinks. For existence is good to the virtuous man, and 
each man wishes himself what is good, while no one chooses to 
possess the whole world if he has first to become some one else (for 
that matter, even now God possesses the good) ; he wishes for this only 
on condition of being whatever he is; and the element that thinks 
would seem to be the individual man, or to be so more than any other 
element in him. And such a man wishes to live with himself; for he 
does so with pleasure, since the memories of his past acts are 
delightful and his hopes for the future are good, and therefore 
pleasant. His mind is well stored too with subjects of 
contemplation. And he grieves and rejoices, more than any other, 
with himself; for the same thing is always painful, and the same thing 
always pleasant, and not one thing at one time and another at another; 
he has, so to speak, nothing to repent of. 

Therefore, since each of these characteristics belongs to the good 
man in relation to himself, and he is related to his friend as to 
himself (for his friend is another self), friendship too is thought to 
be one of these attributes, and those who have these attributes to 
be friends. Whether there is or is not friendship between a man and 
himself is a question we may dismiss for the present; there would seem 
to be friendship in so far as he is two or more, to judge from the 
afore-mentioned attributes of friendship, and from the fact that the 
extreme of friendship is likened to one's love for oneself. 

But the attributes named seem to belong even to the majority of men, 
poor creatures though they may be. Are we to say then that in so far 
as they are satisfied with themselves and think they are good, they 
share in these attributes? Certainly no one who is thoroughly bad 
and impious has these attributes, or even seems to do so. They 
hardly belong even to inferior people; for they are at variance with 
themselves, and have appetites for some things and rational desires 
for others. This is true, for instance, of incontinent people; for 
they choose, instead of the things they themselves think good, 
things that are pleasant but hurtful; while others again, through 
cowardice and laziness, shrink from doing what they think best for 
themselves . And those who have done many terrible deeds and are 
hated for their wickedness even shrink from life and destroy 
themselves. And wicked men seek for people with whom to spend their 
days, and shun themselves; for they remember many a grevious deed, and 
anticipate others like them, when they are by themselves, but when 
they are with others they forget. And having nothing lovable in them 
they have no feeling of love to themselves. Therefore also such men do 
not rejoice or grieve with themselves; for their soul is rent by 
faction, and one element in it by reason of its wickedness grieves 
when it abstains from certain acts, while the other part is pleased, 
and one draws them this way and the other that, as if they were 
pulling them in pieces. If a man cannot at the same time be pained and 
pleased, at all events after a short time he is pained because he 
was pleased, and he could have wished that these things had not been 
pleasant to him; for bad men are laden with repentance. 

Therefore the bad man does not seem to be amicably disposed even 
to himself, because there is nothing in him to love; so that if to 
be thus is the height of wretchedness, we should strain every nerve to 
avoid wickedness and should endeavour to be good; for so and only so 
can one be either friendly to oneself or a friend to another. 

5 

Goodwill is a friendly sort of relation, but is not identical with 
friendship; for one may have goodwill both towards people whom one 
does not know, and without their knowing it, but not friendship. 



This has indeed been said already. ' But goodwill is not even 
friendly feeling. For it does not involve intensity or desire, whereas 
these accompany friendly feeling; and friendly feeling implies 
intimacy while goodwill may arise of a sudden, as it does towards 
competitors in a contest; we come to feel goodwill for them and to 
share in their wishes, but we would not do anything with them; for, as 
we said, we feel goodwill suddenly and love them only superficially. 

Goodwill seems, then, to be a beginning of friendship, as the 
pleasure of the eye is the beginning of love. For no one loves if he 
has not first been delighted by the form of the beloved, but he who 
delights in the form of another does not, for all that, love him, 
but only does so when he also longs for him when absent and craves for 
his presence; so too it is not possible for people to be friends if 
they have not come to feel goodwill for each other, but those who feel 
goodwill are not for all that friends; for they only wish well to 
those for whom they feel goodwill, and would not do anything with them 
nor take trouble for them. And so one might by an extension of the 
term friendship say that goodwill is inactive friendship, though 
when it is prolonged and reaches the point of intimacy it becomes 
f riendship-not the friendship based on utility nor that based on 
pleasure; for goodwill too does not arise on those terms. The man 
who has received a benefit bestows goodwill in return for what has 
been done to him, but in doing so is only doing what is just; while he 
who wishes some one to prosper because he hopes for enrichment through 
him seems to have goodwill not to him but rather to himself, just as a 
man is not a friend to another if he cherishes him for the sake of 
some use to be made of him. In general, goodwill arises on account 
of some excellence and worth, when one man seems to another 
beautiful or brave or something of the sort, as we pointed out in 
the case of competitors in a contest. 

6 

Unanimity also seems to be a friendly relation. For this reason it 
is not identity of opinion; for that might occur even with people 
who do not know each other; nor do we say that people who have the 
same views on any and every subject are unanimous, e.g. those who 
agree about the heavenly bodies (for unanimity about these is not a 
friendly relation) , but we do say that a city is unanimous when men 
have the same opinion about what is to their interest, and choose 
the same actions, and do what they have resolved in common. It is 
about things to be done, therefore, that people are said to be 
unanimous, and, among these, about matters of consequence and in which 
it is possible for both or all parties to get what they want; e.g. a 
city is unanimous when all its citizens think that the offices in it 
should be elective, or that they should form an alliance with 
Sparta, or that Pittacus should be their ruler-at a time when he 
himself was also willing to rule. But when each of two people wishes 
himself to have the thing in question, like the captains in the 
Phoenissae, they are in a state of faction; for it is not unanimity 
when each of two parties thinks of the same thing, whatever that may 
be, but only when they think of the same thing in the same hands, e.g. 
when both the common people and those of the better class wish the 
best men to rule; for thus and thus alone do all get what they aim at. 
Unanimity seems, then, to be political friendship, as indeed it is 
commonly said to be; for it is concerned with things that are to our 
interest and have an influence on our life. 

Now such unanimity is found among good men; for they are unanimous 
both in themselves and with one another, being, so to say, of one mind 
(for the wishes of such men are constant and not at the mercy of 
opposing currents like a strait of the sea) , and they wish for what is 
just and what is advantageous, and these are the objects of their 
common endeavour as well. But bad men cannot be unanimous except to 
a small extent, any more than they can be friends, since they aim at 
getting more than their share of advantages, while in labour and 



public service they fall short of their share; and each man wishing 
for advantage to himself criticizes his neighbour and stands in his 
way; for if people do not watch it carefully the common weal is soon 
destroyed. The result is that they are in a state of faction, 
putting compulsion on each other but unwilling themselves to do what 
is just. 

7 

Benefactors are thought to love those they have benefited, more than 
those who have been well treated love those that have treated them 
well, and this is discussed as though it were paradoxical. Most people 
think it is because the latter are in the position of debtors and 
the former of creditors; and therefore as, in the case of loans, 
debtors wish their creditors did not exist, while creditors actually 
take care of the safety of their debtors, so it is thought that 
benefactors wish the objects of their action to exist since they 
will then get their gratitude, while the beneficiaries take no 
interest in making this return. Epicharmus would perhaps declare 
that they say this because they 'look at things on their bad side', 
but it is quite like human nature; for most people are forgetful, 
and are more anxious to be well treated than to treat others well. But 
the cause would seem to be more deeply rooted in the nature of things; 
the case of those who have lent money is not even analogous. For 
they have no friendly feeling to their debtors, but only a wish that 
they may kept safe with a view to what is to be got from them; while 
those who have done a service to others feel friendship and love for 
those they have served even if these are not of any use to them and 
never will be. This is what happens with craftsmen too; every man 
loves his own handiwork better than he would be loved by it if it came 
alive; and this happens perhaps most of all with poets; for they 
have an excessive love for their own poems, doting on them as if 
they were their children. This is what the position of benefactors 
is like; for that which they have treated well is their handiwork, and 
therefore they love this more than the handiwork does its maker. The 
cause of this is that existence is to all men a thing to be chosen and 
loved, and that we exist by virtue of activity (i.e. by living and 
acting) , and that the handiwork is in a sense, the producer in 
activity; he loves his handiwork, therefore, because he loves 
existence. And this is rooted in the nature of things; for what he 
is in potentiality, his handiwork manifests in activity. 

At the same time to the benefactor that is noble which depends on 
his action, so that he delights in the object of his action, whereas 
to the patient there is nothing noble in the agent, but at most 
something advantageous, and this is less pleasant and lovable. What is 
pleasant is the activity of the present, the hope of the future, the 
memory of the past; but most pleasant is that which depends on 
activity, and similarly this is most lovable. Now for a man who has 
made something his work remains (for the noble is lasting), but for 
the person acted on the utility passes away. And the memory of noble 
things is pleasant, but that of useful things is not likely to be 
pleasant, or is less so; though the reverse seems true of expectation. 

Further, love is like activity, being loved like passivity; and 
loving and its concomitants are attributes of those who are the more 
active . 

Again, all men love more what they have won by labour; e.g. those 
who have made their money love it more than those who have inherited 
it; and to be well treated seems to involve no labour, while to 
treat others well is a laborious task. These are the reasons, too, why 
mothers are fonder of their children than fathers; bringing them 
into the world costs them more pains, and they know better that the 
children are their own. This last point, too, would seem to apply to 
benefactors . 



The question is also debated, whether a man should love himself 
most, or some one else. People criticize those who love themselves 
most, and call them self-lovers, using this as an epithet of disgrace, 
and a bad man seems to do everything for his own sake, and the more so 
the more wicked he is-and so men reproach him, for instance, with 
doing nothing of his own accord-while the good man acts for honour's 
sake, and the more so the better he is, and acts for his friend's 
sake, and sacrifices his own interest. 

But the facts clash with these arguments, and this is not 
surprising. For men say that one ought to love best one's best friend, 
and man's best friend is one who wishes well to the object of his wish 
for his sake, even if no one is to know of it; and these attributes 
are found most of all in a man's attitude towards himself, and so 
are all the other attributes by which a friend is defined; for, as 
we have said, it is from this relation that all the characteristics of 
friendship have extended to our neighbours. All the proverbs, too, 
agree with this, e.g. 'a single soul', and 'what friends have is 
common property', and 'friendship is equality', and 'charity begins at 
home'; for all these marks will be found most in a man's relation to 
himself; he is his own best friend and therefore ought to love himself 
best. It is therefore a reasonable question, which of the two views we 
should follow; for both are plausible. 

Perhaps we ought to mark off such arguments from each other and 
determine how far and in what respects each view is right. Now if we 
grasp the sense in which each school uses the phrase 'lover of 
self', the truth may become evident. Those who use the term as one 
of reproach ascribe self-love to people who assign to themselves the 
greater share of wealth, honours, and bodily pleasures; for these 
are what most people desire, and busy themselves about as though 
they were the best of all things, which is the reason, too, why they 
become objects of competition. So those who are grasping with regard 
to these things gratify their appetites and in general their 
feelings and the irrational element of the soul; and most men are of 
this nature (which is the reason why the epithet has come to be used 
as it is-it takes its meaning from the prevailing type of self-love, 
which is a bad one) ; it is just, therefore, that men who are lovers of 
self in this way are reproached for being so. That it is those who 
give themselves the preference in regard to objects of this sort 
that most people usually call lovers of self is plain; for if a man 
were always anxious that he himself, above all things, should act 
justly, temperately, or in accordance with any other of the virtues, 
and in general were always to try to secure for himself the honourable 
course, no one will call such a man a lover of self or blame him. 

But such a man would seem more than the other a lover of self; at 
all events he assigns to himself the things that are noblest and best, 
and gratifies the most authoritative element in and in all things 
obeys this; and just as a city or any other systematic whole is most 
properly identified with the most authoritative element in it, so is a 
man; and therefore the man who loves this and gratifies it is most 
of all a lover of self. Besides, a man is said to have or not to 
have self-control according as his reason has or has not the 
control, on the assumption that this is the man himself; and the 
things men have done on a rational principle are thought most properly 
their own acts and voluntary acts. That this is the man himself, then, 
or is so more than anything else, is plain, and also that the good man 
loves most this part of him. Whence it follows that he is most truly a 
lover of self, of another type than that which is a matter of 
reproach, and as different from that as living according to a rational 
principle is from living as passion dictates, and desiring what is 
noble from desiring what seems advantageous. Those, then, who busy 
themselves in an exceptional degree with noble actions all men approve 
and praise; and if all were to strive towards what is noble and strain 
every nerve to do the noblest deeds, everything would be as it 
should be for the common weal, and every one would secure for 



himself the goods that are greatest, since virtue is the greatest of 
goods . 

Therefore the good man should be a lover of self (for he will both 
himself profit by doing noble acts, and will benefit his fellows), but 
the wicked man should not; for he will hurt both himself and his 
neighbours, following as he does evil passions. For the wicked man, 
what he does clashes with what he ought to do, but what the good man 
ought to do he does; for reason in each of its possessors chooses what 
is best for itself, and the good man obeys his reason. It is true of 
the good man too that he does many acts for the sake of his friends 
and his country, and if necessary dies for them; for he will throw 
away both wealth and honours and in general the goods that are objects 
of competition, gaining for himself nobility; since he would prefer 
a short period of intense pleasure to a long one of mild enjoyment, 
a twelvemonth of noble life to many years of humdrum existence, and 
one great and noble action to many trivial ones . Now those who die for 
others doubtless attain this result; it is therefore a great prize 
that they choose for themselves. They will throw away wealth too on 
condition that their friends will gain more; for while a man's 
friend gains wealth he himself achieves nobility; he is therefore 
assigning the greater good to himself. The same too is true of 
honour and office; all these things he will sacrifice to his friend; 
for this is noble and laudable for himself. Rightly then is he thought 
to be good, since he chooses nobility before all else. But he may even 
give up actions to his friend; it may be nobler to become the cause of 
his friend's acting than to act himself. In all the actions, 
therefore, that men are praised for, the good man is seen to assign to 
himself the greater share in what is noble. In this sense, then, as 
has been said, a man should be a lover of self; but in the sense in 
which most men are so, he ought not. 

9 

It is also disputed whether the happy man will need friends or 
not. It is said that those who are supremely happy and self-sufficient 
have no need of friends; for they have the things that are good, and 
therefore being self-sufficient they need nothing further, while a 
friend, being another self, furnishes what a man cannot provide by his 
own effort; whence the saying 'when fortune is kind, what need of 
friends?' But it seems strange, when one assigns all good things to 
the happy man, not to assign friends, who are thought the greatest 
of external goods. And if it is more characteristic of a friend to 
do well by another than to be well done by, and to confer benefits 
is characteristic of the good man and of virtue, and it is nobler to 
do well by friends than by strangers, the good man will need people to 
do well by. This is why the question is asked whether we need 
friends more in prosperity or in adversity, on the assumption that not 
only does a man in adversity need people to confer benefits on him, 
but also those who are prospering need people to do well by. Surely it 
is strange, too, to make the supremely happy man a solitary; for no 
one would choose the whole world on condition of being alone, since 
man is a political creature and one whose nature is to live with 
others. Therefore even the happy man lives with others; for he has the 
things that are by nature good. And plainly it is better to spend 
his days with friends and good men than with strangers or any chance 
persons. Therefore the happy man needs friends. 

What then is it that the first school means, and in what respect 
is it right? Is it that most identify friends with useful people? Of 
such friends indeed the supremely happy man will have no need, since 
he already has the things that are good; nor will he need those whom 
one makes one's friends because of their pleasantness, or he will need 
them only to a small extent (for his life, being pleasant, has no need 
of adventitious pleasure) ; and because he does not need such friends 
he is thought not to need friends. 

But that is surely not true. For we have said at the outset that 



happiness is an activity; and activity plainly comes into being and is 
not present at the start like a piece of property. If (1) happiness 
lies in living and being active, and the good man's activity is 
virtuous and pleasant in itself, as we have said at the outset, and 
(2) a thing's being one's own is one of the attributes that make it 
pleasant, and (3) we can contemplate our neighbours better than 
ourselves and their actions better than our own, and if the actions of 
virtuous men who are their friends are pleasant to good men (since 
these have both the attributes that are naturally pleasant) , -if this 
be so, the supremely happy man will need friends of this sort, since 
his purpose is to contemplate worthy actions and actions that are 
his own, and the actions of a good man who is his friend have both 
these qualities. 

Further, men think that the happy man ought to live pleasantly. 
Now if he were a solitary, life would be hard for him; for by 
oneself it is not easy to be continuously active; but with others 
and towards others it is easier. With others therefore his activity 
will be more continuous, and it is in itself pleasant, as it ought 
to be for the man who is supremely happy; for a good man qua good 
delights in virtuous actions and is vexed at vicious ones, as a 
musical man enjoys beautiful tunes but is pained at bad ones. A 
certain training in virtue arises also from the company of the good, 
as Theognis has said before us. 

If we look deeper into the nature of things, a virtuous friend seems 
to be naturally desirable for a virtuous man. For that which is good 
by nature, we have said, is for the virtuous man good and pleasant 
in itself. Now life is defined in the case of animals by the power 
of perception in that of man by the power of perception or thought; 
and a power is defined by reference to the corresponding activity, 
which is the essential thing; therefore life seems to be essentially 
the act of perceiving or thinking. And life is among the things that 
are good and pleasant in themselves, since it is determinate and the 
determinate is of the nature of the good; and that which is good by 
nature is also good for the virtuous man (which is the reason why life 
seems pleasant to all men) ; but we must not apply this to a wicked and 
corrupt life nor to a life spent in pain; for such a life is 
indeterminate, as are its attributes. The nature of pain will become 
plainer in what follows. But if life itself is good and pleasant 
(which it seems to be, from the very fact that all men desire it, 
and particularly those who are good and supremely happy; for to such 
men life is most desirable, and their existence is the most 
supremely happy) and if he who sees perceives that he sees, and he who 
hears, that he hears, and he who walks, that he walks, and in the case 
of all other activities similarly there is something which perceives 
that we are active, so that if we perceive, we perceive that we 
perceive, and if we think, that we think; and if to perceive that we 
perceive or think is to perceive that we exist (for existence was 
defined as perceiving or thinking) ; and if perceiving that one lives 
is in itself one of the things that are pleasant (for life is by 
nature good, and to perceive what is good present in oneself is 
pleasant) ; and if life is desirable, and particularly so for good men, 
because to them existence is good and pleasant for they are pleased at 
the consciousness of the presence in them of what is in itself 
good) ; and if as the virtuous man is to himself, he is to his friend 
also (for his friend is another self) :-if all this be true, as his own 
being is desirable for each man, so, or almost so, is that of his 
friend. Now his being was seen to be desirable because he perceived 
his own goodness, and such perception is pleasant in itself. He needs, 
therefore, to be conscious of the existence of his friend as well, and 
this will be realized in their living together and sharing in 
discussion and thought; for this is what living together would seem to 
mean in the case of man, and not, as in the case of cattle, feeding in 
the same place. 

If, then, being is in itself desirable for the supremely happy man 



(since it is by its nature good and pleasant), and that of his 
friend is very much the same, a friend will be one of the things 
that are desirable. Now that which is desirable for him he must 
have, or he will be deficient in this respect. The man who is to be 
happy will therefore need virtuous friends. 

10 

Should we, then, make as many friends as possible, or-as in the case 
of hospitality it is thought to be suitable advice, that one should be 
'neither a man of many guests nor a man with none '-will that apply 
to friendship as well; should a man neither be friendless nor have 
an excessive number of friends? 

To friends made with a view to utility this saying would seem 
thoroughly applicable; for to do services to many people in return 
is a laborious task and life is not long enough for its performance. 
Therefore friends in excess of those who are sufficient for our own 
life are superfluous, and hindrances to the noble life; so that we 
have no need of them. Of friends made with a view to pleasure, also, 
few are enough, as a little seasoning in food is enough. 

But as regards good friends, should we have as many as possible, 
or is there a limit to the number of one's friends, as there is to the 
size of a city? You cannot make a city of ten men, and if there are 
a hundred thousand it is a city no longer. But the proper number is 
presumably not a single number, but anything that falls between 
certain fixed points. So for friends too there is a fixed number 
perhaps the largest number with whom one can live together (for 
that, we found, thought to be very characteristic of friendship) ; 
and that one cannot live with many people and divide oneself up 
among them is plain. Further, they too must be friends of one another, 
if they are all to spend their days together; and it is a hard 
business for this condition to be fulfilled with a large number. It is 
found difficult, too, to rejoice and to grieve in an intimate way with 
many people, for it may likely happen that one has at once to be happy 
with one friend and to mourn with another. Presumably, then, it is 
well not to seek to have as many friends as possible, but as many as 
are enough for the purpose of living together; for it would seem 
actually impossible to be a great friend to many people. This is why 
one cannot love several people; love is ideally a sort of excess of 
friendship, and that can only be felt towards one person; therefore 
great friendship too can only be felt towards a few people. This seems 
to be confirmed in practice; for we do not find many people who are 
friends in the comradely way of friendship, and the famous friendships 
of this sort are always between two people. Those who have many 
friends and mix intimately with them all are thought to be no one's 
friend, except in the way proper to fellow-citizens, and such people 
are also called obsequious. In the way proper to fellow-citizens, 
indeed, it is possible to be the friend of many and yet not be 
obsequious but a genuinely good man; but one cannot have with many 
people the friendship based on virtue and on the character of our 
friends themselves, and we must be content if we find even a few such. 

11 

Do we need friends more in good fortune or in bad? They are sought 
after in both; for while men in adversity need help, in prosperity 
they need people to live with and to make the objects of their 
beneficence; for they wish to do well by others. Friendship, then, 
is more necessary in bad fortune, and so it is useful friends that one 
wants in this case; but it is more noble in good fortune, and so we 
also seek for good men as our friends, since it is more desirable to 
confer benefits on these and to live with these. For the very presence 
of friends is pleasant both in good fortune and also in bad, since 
grief is lightened when friends sorrow with us. Hence one might ask 
whether they share as it were our burden, or-without that 
happening-their presence by its pleasantness, and the thought of their 



grieving with us, make our pain less. Whether it is for these 
reasons or for some other that our grief is lightened, is a question 
that may be dismissed; at all events what we have described appears to 
take place. 

But their presence seems to contain a mixture of various factors. 
The very seeing of one's friends is pleasant, especially if one is 
in adversity, and becomes a safeguard against grief (for a friend 
tends to comfort us both by the sight of him and by his words, if he 
is tactful, since he knows our character and the things that please or 
pain us); but to see him pained at our misfortunes is painful; for 
every one shuns being a cause of pain to his friends. For this 
reason people of a manly nature guard against making their friends 
grieve with them, and, unless he be exceptionally insensible to 
pain, such a man cannot stand the pain that ensues for his friends, 
and in general does not admit fellow-mourners because he is not 
himself given to mourning; but women and womanly men enjoy 
sympathisers in their grief, and love them as friends and companions 
in sorrow. But in all things one obviously ought to imitate the better 
type of person. 

On the other hand, the presence of friends in our prosperity implies 
both a pleasant passing of our time and the pleasant thought of 
their pleasure at our own good fortune. For this cause it would seem 
that we ought to summon our friends readily to share our good fortunes 
(for the beneficent character is a noble one), but summon them to 
our bad fortunes with hesitation; for we ought to give them as 
little a share as possible in our evils whence the saying 'enough is 
my misfortune' . We should summon friends to us most of all when they 
are likely by suffering a few inconveniences to do us a great service. 

Conversely, it is fitting to go unasked and readily to the aid of 
those in adversity (for it is characteristic of a friend to render 
services, and especially to those who are in need and have not 
demanded them; such action is nobler and pleasanter for both persons); 
but when our friends are prosperous we should join readily in their 
activities (for they need friends for these too), but be tardy in 
coming forward to be the objects of their kindness; for it is not 
noble to be keen to receive benefits. Still, we must no doubt avoid 
getting the reputation of kill-joys by repulsing them; for that 
sometimes happens. 

The presence of friends, then, seems desirable in all circumstances. 

12 

Does it not follow, then, that, as for lovers the sight of the 
beloved is the thing they love most, and they prefer this sense to the 
others because on it love depends most for its being and for its 
origin, so for friends the most desirable thing is living together? 
For friendship is a partnership, and as a man is to himself, so is 
he to his friend; now in his own case the consciousness of his being 
is desirable, and so therefore is the consciousness of his friend's 
being, and the activity of this consciousness is produced when they 
live together, so that it is natural that they aim at this. And 
whatever existence means for each class of men, whatever it is for 
whose sake they value life, in that they wish to occupy themselves 
with their friends; and so some drink together, others dice 
together, others join in athletic exercises and hunting, or in the 
study of philosophy, each class spending their days together in 
whatever they love most in life; for since they wish to live with 
their friends, they do and share in those things which give them the 
sense of living together. Thus the friendship of bad men turns out 
an evil thing (for because of their instability they unite in bad 
pursuits, and besides they become evil by becoming like each other), 
while the friendship of good men is good, being augmented by their 
companionship; and they are thought to become better too by their 
activities and by improving each other; for from each other they 
take the mould of the characteristics they approve-whence the saying 



'noble deeds from noble men '.-So much, then, for friendship; our 
next task must be to discuss pleasure. 

BOOK X 

1 

AFTER these matters we ought perhaps next to discuss pleasure. For 
it is thought to be most intimately connected with our human nature, 
which is the reason why in educating the young we steer them by the 
rudders of pleasure and pain; it is thought, too, that to enjoy the 
things we ought and to hate the things we ought has the greatest 
bearing on virtue of character. For these things extend right 
through life, with a weight and power of their own in respect both 
to virtue and to the happy life, since men choose what is pleasant and 
avoid what is painful; and such things, it will be thought, we 
should least of all omit to discuss, especially since they admit of 
much dispute. For some say pleasure is the good, while others, on 
the contrary, say it is thoroughly bad-some no doubt being persuaded 
that the facts are so, and others thinking it has a better effect on 
our life to exhibit pleasure as a bad thing even if it is not; for 
most people (they think) incline towards it and are the slaves of 
their pleasures, for which reason they ought to lead them in the 
opposite direction, since thus they will reach the middle state. But 
surely this is not correct. For arguments about matters concerned with 
feelings and actions are less reliable than facts: and so when they 
clash with the facts of perception they are despised, and discredit 
the truth as well; if a man who runs down pleasure is once seen to 
be aiming at it, his inclining towards it is thought to imply that 
it is all worthy of being aimed at; for most people are not good at 
drawing distinctions. True arguments seem, then, most useful, not only 
with a view to knowledge, but with a view to life also; for since they 
harmonize with the facts they are believed, and so they stimulate 
those who understand them to live according to them. -Enough of such 
questions; let us proceed to review the opinions that have been 
expressed about pleasure. 

2 

Eudoxus thought pleasure was the good because he saw all things, 
both rational and irrational, aiming at it, and because in all 
things that which is the object of choice is what is excellent, and 
that which is most the object of choice the greatest good; thus the 
fact that all things moved towards the same object indicated that this 
was for all things the chief good (for each thing, he argued, finds 
its own good, as it finds its own nourishment) ; and that which is good 
for all things and at which all aim was the good. His arguments were 
credited more because of the excellence of his character than for 
their own sake; he was thought to be remarkably self-controlled, and 
therefore it was thought that he was not saying what he did say as a 
friend of pleasure, but that the facts really were so. He believed 
that the same conclusion followed no less plainly from a study of 
the contrary of pleasure; pain was in itself an object of aversion 
to all things, and therefore its contrary must be similarly an 
object of choice. And again that is most an object of choice which 
we choose not because or for the sake of something else, and 
pleasure is admittedly of this nature; for no one asks to what end 
he is pleased, thus implying that pleasure is in itself an object of 
choice. Further, he argued that pleasure when added to any good, 
e.g. to just or temperate action, makes it more worthy of choice, 
and that it is only by itself that the good can be increased. 

This argument seems to show it to be one of the goods, and no more a 
good than any other; for every good is more worthy of choice along 
with another good than taken alone. And so it is by an argument of 
this kind that Plato proves the good not to be pleasure; he argues 
that the pleasant life is more desirable with wisdom than without, and 
that if the mixture is better, pleasure is not the good; for the 



good cannot become more desirable by the addition of anything to it. 
Now it is clear that nothing else, any more than pleasure, can be 
the good if it is made more desirable by the addition of any of the 
things that are good in themselves. What, then, is there that 
satisfies this criterion, which at the same time we can participate 
in? It is something of this sort that we are looking for. Those who 
object that that at which all things aim is not necessarily good 
are, we may surmise, talking nonsense. For we say that that which 
every one thinks really is so; and the man who attacks this belief 
will hardly have anything more credible to maintain instead. If it 
is senseless creatures that desire the things in question, there might 
be something in what they say; but if intelligent creatures do so as 
well, what sense can there be in this view? But perhaps even in 
inferior creatures there is some natural good stronger than themselves 
which aims at their proper good. 

Nor does the argument about the contrary of pleasure seem to be 
correct. They say that if pain is an evil it does not follow that 
pleasure is a good; for evil is opposed to evil and at the same time 
both are opposed to the neutral state-which is correct enough but does 
not apply to the things in question. For if both pleasure and pain 
belonged to the class of evils they ought both to be objects of 
aversion, while if they belonged to the class of neutrals neither 
should be an object of aversion or they should both be equally so; but 
in fact people evidently avoid the one as evil and choose the other as 
good; that then must be the nature of the opposition between them. 

3 

Nor again, if pleasure is not a quality, does it follow that it is 
not a good; for the activities of virtue are not qualities either, nor 
is happiness. They say, however, that the good is determinate, while 
pleasure is indeterminate, because it admits of degrees. Now if it 
is from the feeling of pleasure that they judge thus, the same will be 
true of justice and the other virtues, in respect of which we 
plainly say that people of a certain character are so more or less, 
and act more or less in accordance with these virtues; for people 
may be more just or brave, and it is possible also to act justly or 
temperately more or less. But if their judgement is based on the 
various pleasures, surely they are not stating the real cause, if in 
fact some pleasures are unmixed and others mixed. Again, just as 
health admits of degrees without being indeterminate, why should not 
pleasure? The same proportion is not found in all things, nor a single 
proportion always in the same thing, but it may be relaxed and yet 
persist up to a point, and it may differ in degree. The case of 
pleasure also may therefore be of this kind. 

Again, they assume that the good is perfect while movements and 
comings into being are imperfect, and try to exhibit pleasure as being 
a movement and a coming into being. But they do not seem to be right 
even in saying that it is a movement. For speed and slowness are 
thought to be proper to every movement, and if a movement, e.g. that 
of the heavens, has not speed or slowness in itself, it has it in 
relation to something else; but of pleasure neither of these things is 
true. For while we may become pleased quickly as we may become angry 
quickly, we cannot be pleased quickly, not even in relation to some 
one else, while we can walk, or grow, or the like, quickly. While, 
then, we can change quickly or slowly into a state of pleasure, we 
cannot quickly exhibit the activity of pleasure, i.e. be pleased. 
Again, how can it be a coming into being? It is not thought that any 
chance thing can come out of any chance thing, but that a thing is 
dissolved into that out of which it comes into being; and pain would 
be the destruction of that of which pleasure is the coming into being. 

They say, too, that pain is the lack of that which is according to 
nature, and pleasure is replenishment. But these experiences are 
bodily. If then pleasure is replenishment with that which is according 
to nature, that which feels pleasure will be that in which the 



replenishment takes place, i.e. the body; but that is not thought to 
be the case; therefore the replenishment is not pleasure, though one 
would be pleased when replenishment was taking place, just as one 
would be pained if one was being operated on. This opinion seems to be 
based on the pains and pleasures connected with nutrition; on the fact 
that when people have been short of food and have felt pain beforehand 
they are pleased by the replenishment. But this does not happen with 
all pleasures; for the pleasures of learning and, among the sensuous 
pleasures, those of smell, and also many sounds and sights, and 
memories and hopes, do not presuppose pain. Of what then will these be 
the coming into being? There has not been lack of anything of which 
they could be the supplying anew. 

In reply to those who bring forward the disgraceful pleasures one 
may say that these are not pleasant; if things are pleasant to 
people of vicious constitution, we must not suppose that they are also 
pleasant to others than these, just as we do not reason so about the 
things that are wholesome or sweet or bitter to sick people, or 
ascribe whiteness to the things that seem white to those suffering 
from a disease of the eye. Or one might answer thus-that the pleasures 
are desirable, but not from these sources, as wealth is desirable, but 
not as the reward of betrayal, and health, but not at the cost of 
eating anything and everything. Or perhaps pleasures differ in kind; 
for those derived from noble sources are different from those 
derived from base sources, and one cannot the pleasure of the just man 
without being just, nor that of the musical man without being musical, 
and so on. 

The fact, too, that a friend is different from a flatterer seems 
to make it plain that pleasure is not a good or that pleasures are 
different in kind; for the one is thought to consort with us with a 
view to the good, the other with a view to our pleasure, and the one 
is reproached for his conduct while the other is praised on the ground 
that he consorts with us for different ends. And no one would choose 
to live with the intellect of a child throughout his life, however 
much he were to be pleased at the things that children are pleased at, 
nor to get enjoyment by doing some most disgraceful deed, though he 
were never to feel any pain in consequence. And there are many 
things we should be keen about even if they brought no pleasure, 
e.g. seeing, remembering, knowing, possessing the virtues. If 
pleasures necessarily do accompany these, that makes no odds; we 
should choose these even if no pleasure resulted. It seems to be 
clear, then, that neither is pleasure the good nor is all pleasure 
desirable, and that some pleasures are desirable in themselves, 
differing in kind or in their sources from the others. So much for the 
things that are said about pleasure and pain. 

4 

What pleasure is, or what kind of thing it is, will become plainer 
if we take up the question aga from the beginning. Seeing seems to 
be at any moment complete, for it does not lack anything which 
coming into being later will complete its form; and pleasure also 
seems to be of this nature. For it is a whole, and at no time can 
one find a pleasure whose form will be completed if the pleasure lasts 
longer. For this reason, too, it is not a movement. For every movement 
(e.g. that of building) takes time and is for the sake of an end, 
and is complete when it has made what it aims at. It is complete, 
therefore, only in the whole time or at that final moment. In their 
parts and during the time they occupy, all movements are incomplete, 
and are different in kind from the whole movement and from each other. 
For the fitting together of the stones is different from the fluting 
of the column, and these are both different from the making of the 
temple; and the making of the temple is complete (for it lacks nothing 
with a view to the end proposed) , but the making of the base or of the 
triglyph is incomplete; for each is the making of only a part. They 
differ in kind, then, and it is not possible to find at any and 



every time a movement complete in form, but if at all, only in the 
whole time. So, too, in the case of walking and all other movements. 
For if locomotion is a movement from to there, it, too, has 
differences in kind-flying, walking, leaping, and so on. And not 
only so, but in walking itself there are such differences; for the 
whence and whither are not the same in the whole racecourse and in a 
part of it, nor in one part and in another, nor is it the same thing 
to traverse this line and that; for one traverses not only a line 
but one which is in a place, and this one is in a different place from 
that. We have discussed movement with precision in another work, but 
it seems that it is not complete at any and every time, but that the 
many movements are incomplete and different in kind, since the 
whence and whither give them their form. But of pleasure the form is 
complete at any and every time. Plainly, then, pleasure and movement 
must be different from each other, and pleasure must be one of the 
things that are whole and complete. This would seem to be the case, 
too, from the fact that it is not possible to move otherwise than in 
time, but it is possible to be pleased; for that which takes place 
in a moment is a whole. 

From these considerations it is clear, too, that these thinkers 
are not right in saying there is a movement or a coming into being 
of pleasure. For these cannot be ascribed to all things, but only to 
those that are divisible and not wholes; there is no coming into being 
of seeing nor of a point nor of a unit, nor is any of these a movement 
or coming into being; therefore there is no movement or coming into 
being of pleasure either; for it is a whole. 

Since every sense is active in relation to its object, and a sense 
which is in good condition acts perfectly in relation to the most 
beautiful of its objects (for perfect activity seems to be ideally 
of this nature; whether we say that it is active, or the organ in 
which it resides, may be assumed to be immaterial), it follows that in 
the case of each sense the best activity is that of the 
best-conditioned organ in relation to the finest of its objects. And 
this activity will be the most complete and pleasant. For, while there 
is pleasure in respect of any sense, and in respect of thought and 
contemplation no less, the most complete is pleasantest, and that of a 
well-conditioned organ in relation to the worthiest of its objects 
is the most complete; and the pleasure completes the activity. But the 
pleasure does not complete it in the same way as the combination of 
object and sense, both good, just as health and the doctor are not 
in the same way the cause of a man's being healthy. (That pleasure 
is produced in respect to each sense is plain; for we speak of 
sights and sounds as pleasant. It is also plain that it arises most of 
all when both the sense is at its best and it is active in reference 
to an object which corresponds; when both object and perceiver are 
of the best there will always be pleasure, since the requisite agent 
and patient are both present.) Pleasure completes the activity not 
as the corresponding permanent state does, by its immanence, but as an 
end which supervenes as the bloom of youth does on those in the flower 
of their age. So long, then, as both the intelligible or sensible 
object and the discriminating or contemplative faculty are as they 
should be, the pleasure will be involved in the activity; for when 
both the passive and the active factor are unchanged and are related 
to each other in the same way, the same result naturally follows. 

How, then, is it that no one is continuously pleased? Is it that 
we grow weary? Certainly all human beings are incapable of 
continuous activity. Therefore pleasure also is not continuous; for it 
accompanies activity. Some things delight us when they are new, but 
later do so less, for the same reason; for at first the mind is in a 
state of stimulation and intensely active about them, as people are 
with respect to their vision when they look hard at a thing, but 
afterwards our activity is not of this kind, but has grown relaxed; 
for which reason the pleasure also is dulled. 

One might think that all men desire pleasure because they all aim at 



life; life is an activity, and each man is active about those things 
and with those faculties that he loves most; e.g. the musician is 
active with his hearing in reference to tunes, the student with his 
mind in reference to theoretical questions, and so on in each case; 
now pleasure completes the activities, and therefore life, which 
they desire. It is with good reason, then, that they aim at pleasure 
too, since for every one it completes life, which is desirable. But 
whether we choose life for the sake of pleasure or pleasure for the 
sake of life is a question we may dismiss for the present. For they 
seem to be bound up together and not to admit of separation, since 
without activity pleasure does not arise, and every activity is 
completed by the attendant pleasure. 

5 

For this reason pleasures seem, too, to differ in kind. For things 
different in kind are, we think, completed by different things (we see 
this to be true both of natural objects and of things produced by art, 
e.g. animals, trees, a painting, a sculpture, a house, an 
implement) ; and, similarly, we think that activities differing in kind 
are completed by things differing in kind. Now the activities of 
thought differ from those of the senses, and both differ among 
themselves, in kind; so, therefore, do the pleasures that complete 
them. 

This may be seen, too, from the fact that each of the pleasures is 
bound up with the activity it completes. For an activity is 
intensified by its proper pleasure, since each class of things is 
better judged of and brought to precision by those who engage in the 
activity with pleasure; e.g. it is those who enjoy geometrical 
thinking that become geometers and grasp the various propositions 
better, and, similarly, those who are fond of music or of building, 
and so on, make progress in their proper function by enjoying it; so 
the pleasures intensify the activities, and what intensifies a thing 
is proper to it, but things different in kind have properties 
different in kind. 

This will be even more apparent from the fact that activities are 
hindered by pleasures arising from other sources. For people who are 
fond of playing the flute are incapable of attending to arguments if 
they overhear some one playing the flute, since they enjoy 
flute-playing more than the activity in hand; so the pleasure 
connected with fluteplaying destroys the activity concerned with 
argument. This happens, similarly, in all other cases, when one is 
active about two things at once; the more pleasant activity drives out 
the other, and if it is much more pleasant does so all the more, so 
that one even ceases from the other. This is why when we enjoy 
anything very much we do not throw ourselves into anything else, and 
do one thing only when we are not much pleased by another; e.g. in the 
theatre the people who eat sweets do so most when the actors are poor. 
Now since activities are made precise and more enduring and better 
by their proper pleasure, and injured by alien pleasures, evidently 
the two kinds of pleasure are far apart. For alien pleasures do pretty 
much what proper pains do, since activities are destroyed by their 
proper pains; e.g. if a man finds writing or doing sums unpleasant and 
painful, he does not write, or does not do sums, because the 
activity is painful. So an activity suffers contrary effects from 
its proper pleasures and pains, i.e. from those that supervene on it 
in virtue of its own nature. And alien pleasures have been stated to 
do much the same as pain; they destroy the activity, only not to the 
same degree. 

Now since activities differ in respect of goodness and badness, 
and some are worthy to be chosen, others to be avoided, and others 
neutral, so, too, are the pleasures; for to each activity there is a 
proper pleasure. The pleasure proper to a worthy activity is good 
and that proper to an unworthy activity bad; just as the appetites for 
noble objects are laudable, those for base objects culpable. But the 



pleasures involved in activities are more proper to them than the 
desires; for the latter are separated both in time and in nature, 
while the former are close to the activities, and so hard to 
distinguish from them that it admits of dispute whether the activity 
is not the same as the pleasure. (Still, pleasure does not seem to 
be thought or perception-that would be strange; but because they are 
not found apart they appear to some people the same.) As activities 
are different, then, so are the corresponding pleasures. Now sight 
is superior to touch in purity, and hearing and smell to taste; the 
pleasures, therefore, are similarly superior, and those of thought 
superior to these, and within each of the two kinds some are 
superior to others . 

Each animal is thought to have a proper pleasure, as it has a proper 
function; viz. that which corresponds to its activity. If we survey 
them species by species, too, this will be evident; horse, dog, and 
man have different pleasures, as Heraclitus says 'asses would prefer 
sweepings to gold'; for food is pleasanter than gold to asses. So 
the pleasures of creatures different in kind differ in kind, and it is 
plausible to suppose that those of a single species do not differ. But 
they vary to no small extent, in the case of men at least; the same 
things delight some people and pain others, and are painful and odious 
to some, and pleasant to and liked by others. This happens, too, in 
the case of sweet things; the same things do not seem sweet to a man 
in a fever and a healthy man-nor hot to a weak man and one in good 
condition. The same happens in other cases. But in all such matters 
that which appears to the good man is thought to be really so. If this 
is correct, as it seems to be, and virtue and the good man as such are 
the measure of each thing, those also will be pleasures which appear 
so to him, and those things pleasant which he enjoys. If the things he 
finds tiresome seem pleasant to some one, that is nothing 
surprising; for men may be ruined and spoilt in many ways; but the 
things are not pleasant, but only pleasant to these people and to 
people in this condition. Those which are admittedly disgraceful 
plainly should not be said to be pleasures, except to a perverted 
taste; but of those that are thought to be good what kind of 
pleasure or what pleasure should be said to be that proper to man? 
Is it not plain from the corresponding activities? The pleasures 
follow these. Whether, then, the perfect and supremely happy man has 
one or more activities, the pleasures that perfect these will be 
said in the strict sense to be pleasures proper to man, and the rest 
will be so in a secondary and fractional way, as are the activities. 

6 

Now that we have spoken of the virtues, the forms of friendship, and 
the varieties of pleasure, what remains is to discuss in outline the 
nature of happiness, since this is what we state the end of human 
nature to be. Our discussion will be the more concise if we first 
sum up what we have said already. We said, then, that it is not a 
disposition; for if it were it might belong to some one who was asleep 
throughout his life, living the life of a plant, or, again, to some 
one who was suffering the greatest misfortunes. If these 
implications are unacceptable, and we must rather class happiness as 
an activity, as we have said before, and if some activities are 
necessary, and desirable for the sake of something else, while 
others are so in themselves, evidently happiness must be placed 
among those desirable in themselves, not among those desirable for the 
sake of something else; for happiness does not lack anything, but is 
self-sufficient. Now those activities are desirable in themselves from 
which nothing is sought beyond the activity. And of this nature 
virtuous actions are thought to be; for to do noble and good deeds 
is a thing desirable for its own sake. 

Pleasant amusements also are thought to be of this nature; we choose 
them not for the sake of other things; for we are injured rather 
than benefited by them, since we are led to neglect our bodies and our 



property. But most of the people who are deemed happy take refuge in 
such pastimes, which is the reason why those who are ready-witted at 
them are highly esteemed at the courts of tyrants; they make 
themselves pleasant companions in the tyrants' favourite pursuits, and 
that is the sort of man they want. Now these things are thought to 
be of the nature of happiness because people in despotic positions 
spend their leisure in them, but perhaps such people prove nothing; 
for virtue and reason, from which good activities flow, do not 
depend on despotic position; nor, if these people, who have never 
tasted pure and generous pleasure, take refuge in the bodily 
pleasures, should these for that reason be thought more desirable; for 
boys, too, think the things that are valued among themselves are the 
best. It is to be expected, then, that, as different things seem 
valuable to boys and to men, so they should to bad men and to good. 
Now, as we have often maintained, those things are both valuable and 
pleasant which are such to the good man; and to each man the 
activity in accordance with his own disposition is most desirable, 
and, therefore, to the good man that which is in accordance with 
virtue. Happiness, therefore, does not lie in amusement; it would, 
indeed, be strange if the end were amusement, and one were to take 
trouble and suffer hardship all one's life in order to amuse 
oneself. For, in a word, everything that we choose we choose for the 
sake of something else-except happiness, which is an end. Now to exert 
oneself and work for the sake of amusement seems silly and utterly 
childish. But to amuse oneself in order that one may exert oneself, as 
Anacharsis puts it, seems right; for amusement is a sort of 
relaxation, and we need relaxation because we cannot work 
continuously. Relaxation, then, is not an end; for it is taken for the 
sake of activity. 

The happy life is thought to be virtuous; now a virtuous life 
requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement. And we say 
that serious things are better than laughable things and those 
connected with amusement, and that the activity of the better of any 
two things-whether it be two elements of our being or two men-is the 
more serious; but the activity of the better is ipso facto superior 
and more of the nature of happiness. And any chance person-even a 
slave-can enjoy the bodily pleasures no less than the best man; but no 
one assigns to a slave a share in happiness-unless he assigns to him 
also a share in human life. For happiness does not lie in such 
occupations, but, as we have said before, in virtuous activities. 

7 

If happiness is activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable 
that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will 
be that of the best thing in us. Whether it be reason or something 
else that is this element which is thought to be our natural ruler and 
guide and to take thought of things noble and divine, whether it be 
itself also divine or only the most divine element in us, the activity 
of this in accordance with its proper virtue will be perfect 
happiness. That this activity is contemplative we have already said. 

Now this would seem to be in agreement both with what we said before 
and with the truth. For, firstly, this activity is the best (since not 
only is reason the best thing in us, but the objects of reason are the 
best of knowable objects); and secondly, it is the most continuous, 
since we can contemplate truth more continuously than we can do 
anything. And we think happiness has pleasure mingled with it, but the 
activity of philosophic wisdom is admittedly the pleasantest of 
virtuous activities; at all events the pursuit of it is thought to 
offer pleasures marvellous for their purity and their enduringness, 
and it is to be expected that those who know will pass their time more 
pleasantly than those who inquire. And the self-sufficiency that is 
spoken of must belong most to the contemplative activity. For while 
a philosopher, as well as a just man or one possessing any other 
virtue, needs the necessaries of life, when they are sufficiently 



equipped with things of that sort the just man needs people towards 
whom and with whom he shall act justly, and the temperate man, the 
brave man, and each of the others is in the same case, but the 
philosopher, even when by himself, can contemplate truth, and the 
better the wiser he is; he can perhaps do so better if he has 
fellow-workers, but still he is the most self-sufficient. And this 
activity alone would seem to be loved for its own sake; for nothing 
arises from it apart from the contemplating, while from practical 
activities we gain more or less apart from the action. And happiness 
is thought to depend on leisure; for we are busy that we may have 
leisure, and make war that we may live in peace. Now the activity of 
the practical virtues is exhibited in political or military affairs, 
but the actions concerned with these seem to be unleisurely. Warlike 
actions are completely so (for no one chooses to be at war, or 
provokes war, for the sake of being at war; any one would seem 
absolutely murderous if he were to make enemies of his friends in 
order to bring about battle and slaughter) ; but the action of the 
statesman is also unleisurely, and-apart from the political action 
itself-aims at despotic power and honours, or at all events happiness, 
for him and his fellow citizens-a happiness different from political 
action, and evidently sought as being different. So if among 
virtuous actions political and military actions are distinguished by 
nobility and greatness, and these are unleisurely and aim at an end 
and are not desirable for their own sake, but the activity of 
reason, which is contemplative, seems both to be superior in serious 
worth and to aim at no end beyond itself, and to have its pleasure 
proper to itself (and this augments the activity) , and the 
self-sufficiency, leisureliness, unweariedness (so far as this is 
possible for man) , and all the other attributes ascribed to the 
supremely happy man are evidently those connected with this 
activity, it follows that this will be the complete happiness of 
man, if it be allowed a complete term of life (for none of the 
attributes of happiness is incomplete) . 

But such a life would be too high for man; for it is not in so far 
as he is man that he will live so, but in so far as something divine 
is present in him; and by so much as this is superior to our composite 
nature is its activity superior to that which is the exercise of the 
other kind of virtue. If reason is divine, then, in comparison with 
man, the life according to it is divine in comparison with human life. 
But we must not follow those who advise us, being men, to think of 
human things, and, being mortal, of mortal things, but must, so far as 
we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain every nerve to live in 
accordance with the best thing in us; for even if it be small in bulk, 
much more does it in power and worth surpass everything. This would 
seem, too, to be each man himself, since it is the authoritative and 
better part of him. It would be strange, then, if he were to choose 
not the life of his self but that of something else. And what we 
said before' will apply now; that which is proper to each thing is 
by nature best and most pleasant for each thing; for man, therefore, 
the life according to reason is best and pleasantest, since reason 
more than anything else is man. This life therefore is also the 
happiest . 



But in a secondary degree the life in accordance with the other kind 
of virtue is happy; for the activities in accordance with this befit 
our human estate. Just and brave acts, and other virtuous acts, we 
do in relation to each other, observing our respective duties with 
regard to contracts and services and all manner of actions and with 
regard to passions; and all of these seem to be typically human. 
Some of them seem even to arise from the body, and virtue of character 
to be in many ways bound up with the passions. Practical wisdom, 
too, is linked to virtue of character, and this to practical wisdom, 
since the principles of practical wisdom are in accordance with the 



moral virtues and rightness in morals is in accordance with 
practical wisdom. Being connected with the passions also, the moral 
virtues must belong to our composite nature; and the virtues of our 
composite nature are human; so, therefore, are the life and the 
happiness which correspond to these. The excellence of the reason is a 
thing apart; we must be content to say this much about it, for to 
describe it precisely is a task greater than our purpose requires. 
It would seem, however, also to need external equipment but little, or 
less than moral virtue does. Grant that both need the necessaries, and 
do so equally, even if the statesman's work is the more concerned with 
the body and things of that sort; for there will be little 
difference there; but in what they need for the exercise of their 
activities there will be much difference. The liberal man will need 
money for the doing of his liberal deeds, and the just man too will 
need it for the returning of services (for wishes are hard to discern, 
and even people who are not just pretend to wish to act justly) ; and 
the brave man will need power if he is to accomplish any of the acts 
that correspond to his virtue, and the temperate man will need 
opportunity; for how else is either he or any of the others to be 
recognized? It is debated, too, whether the will or the deed is more 
essential to virtue, which is assumed to involve both; it is surely 
clear that its perfection involves both; but for deeds many things are 
needed, and more, the greater and nobler the deeds are. But the man 
who is contemplating the truth needs no such thing, at least with a 
view to the exercise of his activity; indeed they are, one may say, 
even hindrances, at all events to his contemplation; but in so far 
as he is a man and lives with a number of people, he chooses to do 
virtuous acts; he will therefore need such aids to living a human 
life. 

But that perfect happiness is a contemplative activity will appear 
from the following consideration as well. We assume the gods to be 
above all other beings blessed and happy; but what sort of actions 
must we assign to them? Acts of justice? Will not the gods seem absurd 
if they make contracts and return deposits, and so on? Acts of a brave 
man, then, confronting dangers and running risks because it is noble 
to do so? Or liberal acts? To whom will they give? It will be 
strange if they are really to have money or anything of the kind. 
And what would their temperate acts be? Is not such praise 
tasteless, since they have no bad appetites? If we were to run through 
them all, the circumstances of action would be found trivial and 
unworthy of gods. Still, every one supposes that they live and 
therefore that they are active; we cannot suppose them to sleep like 
Endymion. Now if you take away from a living being action, and still 
more production, what is left but contemplation? Therefore the 
activity of God, which surpasses all others in blessedness, must be 
contemplative; and of human activities, therefore, that which is 
most akin to this must be most of the nature of happiness. 

This is indicated, too, by the fact that the other animals have no 
share in happiness, being completely deprived of such activity. For 
while the whole life of the gods is blessed, and that of men too in so 
far as some likeness of such activity belongs to them, none of the 
other animals is happy, since they in no way share in contemplation. 
Happiness extends, then, just so far as contemplation does, and 
those to whom contemplation more fully belongs are more truly happy, 
not as a mere concomitant but in virtue of the contemplation; for this 
is in itself precious. Happiness, therefore, must be some form of 
contemplation . 

But, being a man, one will also need external prosperity; for our 
nature is not self-sufficient for the purpose of contemplation, but 
our body also must be healthy and must have food and other 
attention. Still, we must not think that the man who is to be happy 
will need many things or great things, merely because he cannot be 
supremely happy without external goods; for self-sufficiency and 
action do not involve excess, and we can do noble acts without 



ruling earth and sea; for even with moderate advantages one can act 
virtuously (this is manifest enough; for private persons are thought 
to do worthy acts no less than despots-indeed even more) ; and it is 
enough that we should have so much as that; for the life of the man 
who is active in accordance with virtue will be happy. Solon, too, was 
perhaps sketching well the happy man when he described him as 
moderately furnished with externals but as having done (as Solon 
thought) the noblest acts, and lived temperately; for one can with but 
moderate possessions do what one ought. Anaxagoras also seems to 
have supposed the happy man not to be rich nor a despot, when he 
said that he would not be surprised if the happy man were to seem to 
most people a strange person; for they judge by externals, since these 
are all they perceive. The opinions of the wise seem, then, to 
harmonize with our arguments. But while even such things carry some 
conviction, the truth in practical matters is discerned from the facts 
of life; for these are the decisive factor. We must therefore survey 
what we have already said, bringing it to the test of the facts of 
life, and if it harmonizes with the facts we must accept it, but if it 
clashes with them we must suppose it to be mere theory. Now he who 
exercises his reason and cultivates it seems to be both in the best 
state of mind and most dear to the gods. For if the gods have any care 
for human affairs, as they are thought to have, it would be reasonable 
both that they should delight in that which was best and most akin 
to them (i.e. reason) and that they should reward those who love and 
honour this most, as caring for the things that are dear to them and 
acting both rightly and nobly. And that all these attributes belong 
most of all to the philosopher is manifest. He, therefore, is the 
dearest to the gods. And he who is that will presumably be also the 
happiest; so that in this way too the philosopher will more than any 
other be happy. 

9 

If these matters and the virtues, and also friendship and 
pleasure, have been dealt with sufficiently in outline, are we to 
suppose that our programme has reached its end? Surely, as the 
saying goes, where there are things to be done the end is not to 
survey and recognize the various things, but rather to do them; with 
regard to virtue, then, it is not enough to know, but we must try to 
have and use it, or try any other way there may be of becoming good. 
Now if arguments were in themselves enough to make men good, they 
would justly, as Theognis says, have won very great rewards, and 
such rewards should have been provided; but as things are, while 
they seem to have power to encourage and stimulate the generous-minded 
among our youth, and to make a character which is gently born, and a 
true lover of what is noble, ready to be possessed by virtue, they are 
not able to encourage the many to nobility and goodness. For these 
do not by nature obey the sense of shame, but only fear, and do not 
abstain from bad acts because of their baseness but through fear of 
punishment; living by passion they pursue their own pleasures and 
the means to them, and and the opposite pains, and have not even a 
conception of what is noble and truly pleasant, since they have 
never tasted it. What argument would remould such people? It is 
hard, if not impossible, to remove by argument the traits that have 
long since been incorporated in the character; and perhaps we must 
be content if, when all the influences by which we are thought to 
become good are present, we get some tincture of virtue. 

Now some think that we are made good by nature, others by 
habituation, others by teaching. Nature's part evidently does not 
depend on us, but as a result of some divine causes is present in 
those who are truly fortunate; while argument and teaching, we may 
suspect, are not powerful with all men, but the soul of the student 
must first have been cultivated by means of habits for noble joy and 
noble hatred, like earth which is to nourish the seed. For he who 
lives as passion directs will not hear argument that dissuades him, 



nor understand it if he does; and how can we persuade one in such a 
state to change his ways? And in general passion seems to yield not to 
argument but to force. The character, then, must somehow be there 
already with a kinship to virtue, loving what is noble and hating what 
is base. 

But it is difficult to get from youth up a right training for virtue 
if one has not been brought up under right laws; for to live 
temperately and hardily is not pleasant to most people, especially 
when they are young. For this reason their nurture and occupations 
should be fixed by law; for they will not be painful when they have 
become customary. But it is surely not enough that when they are young 
they should get the right nurture and attention; since they must, even 
when they are grown up, practise and be habituated to them, we shall 
need laws for this as well, and generally speaking to cover the 
whole of life; for most people obey necessity rather than argument, 
and punishments rather than the sense of what is noble. 

This is why some think that legislators ought to stimulate men to 
virtue and urge them forward by the motive of the noble, on the 
assumption that those who have been well advanced by the formation 
of habits will attend to such influences; and that punishments and 
penalties should be imposed on those who disobey and are of inferior 
nature, while the incurably bad should be completely banished. A 
good man (they think) , since he lives with his mind fixed on what is 
noble, will submit to argument, while a bad man, whose desire is for 
pleasure, is corrected by pain like a beast of burden. This is, too, 
why they say the pains inflicted should be those that are most opposed 
to the pleasures such men love. 

However that may be, if (as we have said) the man who is to be 
good must be well trained and habituated, and go on to spend his 
time in worthy occupations and neither willingly nor unwillingly do 
bad actions, and if this can be brought about if men live in 
accordance with a sort of reason and right order, provided this has 
force, -if this be so, the paternal command indeed has not the required 
force or compulsive power (nor in general has the command of one 
man, unless he be a king or something similar) , but the law has 
compulsive power, while it is at the same time a rule proceeding 
from a sort of practical wisdom and reason. And while people hate 
men who oppose their impulses, even if they oppose them rightly, the 
law in its ordaining of what is good is not burdensome. 

In the Spartan state alone, or almost alone, the legislator seems to 
have paid attention to questions of nurture and occupations; in most 
states such matters have been neglected, and each man lives as he 
pleases, Cyclops-fashion, 'to his own wife and children dealing 
law' . Now it is best that there should be a public and proper care for 
such matters; but if they are neglected by the community it would seem 
right for each man to help his children and friends towards virtue, 
and that they should have the power, or at least the will, to do this. 

It would seem from what has been said that he can do this better 
if he makes himself capable of legislating. For public control is 
plainly effected by laws, and good control by good laws; whether 
written or unwritten would seem to make no difference, nor whether 
they are laws providing for the education of individuals or of 
groups-any more than it does in the case of music or gymnastics and 
other such pursuits. For as in cities laws and prevailing types of 
character have force, so in households do the injunctions and the 
habits of the father, and these have even more because of the tie of 
blood and the benefits he confers; for the children start with a 
natural affection and disposition to obey. Further, private 
education has an advantage over public, as private medical treatment 
has; for while in general rest and abstinence from food are good for a 
man in a fever, for a particular man they may not be; and a boxer 
presumably does not prescribe the same style of fighting to all his 
pupils. It would seem, then, that the detail is worked out with more 
precision if the control is private; for each person is more likely to 



get what suits his case. 

But the details can be best looked after, one by one, by a doctor or 
gymnastic instructor or any one else who has the general knowledge 
of what is good for every one or for people of a certain kind (for the 
sciences both are said to be, and are, concerned with what is 
universal); not but what some particular detail may perhaps be well 
looked after by an unscientific person, if he has studied accurately 
in the light of experience what happens in each case, just as some 
people seem to be their own best doctors, though they could give no 
help to any one else. None the less, it will perhaps be agreed that if 
a man does wish to become master of an art or science he must go to 
the universal, and come to know it as well as possible; for, as we 
have said, it is with this that the sciences are concerned. 

And surely he who wants to make men, whether many or few, better 
by his care must try to become capable of legislating, if it is 
through laws that we can become good. For to get any one 
whatever-any one who is put before us-into the right condition is 
not for the first chance comer; if any one can do it, it is the man 
who knows, just as in medicine and all other matters which give 
scope for care and prudence. 

Must we not, then, next examine whence or how one can learn how to 
legislate? Is it, as in all other cases, from statesmen? Certainly 
it was thought to be a part of statesmanship. Or is a difference 
apparent between statesmanship and the other sciences and arts? In the 
others the same people are found offering to teach the arts and 
practising them, e.g. doctors or painters; but while the sophists 
profess to teach politics, it is practised not by any of them but by 
the politicians, who would seem to do so by dint of a certain skill 
and experience rather than of thought; for they are not found either 
writing or speaking about such matters (though it were a nobler 
occupation perhaps than composing speeches for the law-courts and 
the assembly) , nor again are they found to have made statesmen of 
their own sons or any other of their friends. But it was to be 
expected that they should if they could; for there is nothing better 
than such a skill that they could have left to their cities, or 
could prefer to have for themselves, or, therefore, for those 
dearest to them. Still, experience seems to contribute not a little; 
else they could not have become politicians by familiarity with 
politics; and so it seems that those who aim at knowing about the 
art of politics need experience as well. 

But those of the sophists who profess the art seem to be very far 
from teaching it. For, to put the matter generally, they do not even 
know what kind of thing it is nor what kinds of things it is about; 
otherwise they would not have classed it as identical with rhetoric or 
even inferior to it, nor have thought it easy to legislate by 
collecting the laws that are thought well of; they say it is 
possible to select the best laws, as though even the selection did not 
demand intelligence and as though right judgement were not the 
greatest thing, as in matters of music. For while people experienced 
in any department judge rightly the works produced in it, and 
understand by what means or how they are achieved, and what harmonizes 
with what, the inexperienced must be content if they do not fail to 
see whether the work has been well or ill made-as in the case of 
painting. Now laws are as it were the' works' of the political art; 
how then can one learn from them to be a legislator, or judge which 
are best? Even medical men do not seem to be made by a study of 
text-books. Yet people try, at any rate, to state not only the 
treatments, but also how particular classes of people can be cured and 
should be treated-distinguishing the various habits of body; but while 
this seems useful to experienced people, to the inexperienced it is 
valueless. Surely, then, while collections of laws, and of 
constitutions also, may be serviceable to those who can study them and 
judge what is good or bad and what enactments suit what circumstances, 
those who go through such collections without a practised faculty will 



not have right judgement (unless it be as a spontaneous gift of 
nature) , though they may perhaps become more intelligent in such 
matters . 

Now our predecessors have left the subject of legislation to us 
unexamined; it is perhaps best, therefore, that we should ourselves 
study it, and in general study the question of the constitution, in 
order to complete to the best of our ability our philosophy of human 
nature. First, then, if anything has been said well in detail by 
earlier thinkers, let us try to review it; then in the light of the 
constitutions we have collected let us study what sorts of influence 
preserve and destroy states, and what sorts preserve or destroy the 
particular kinds of constitution, and to what causes it is due that 
some are well and others ill administered. When these have been 
studied we shall perhaps be more likely to see with a comprehensive 
view, which constitution is best, and how each must be ordered, and 
what laws and customs it must use, if it is to be at its best. Let 
us make a beginning of our discussion. 



THE END